By the end of the week, the Royal Commission contained all the ingredients of a cheesy 1980s cloak and dagger TV drama. Culminating in the stress induced hospitalisation of a CEO, this week's onslaught would have almost passed for entertainment, if the findings weren't so utterly disappointing. The damage impacted consumers, professional financial planners, corporate regulators, industry associations and, at hip-pocket level, the big-four banks.
Much of this could have been avoided if previous governments, along with the media, had taken these matters more seriously when they had the opportunity. Over the last decade or so it often seemed to me that the warning signs along the way were either too obscure to fully understand, or just too boring for anyone to bother digging any deeper, and so a toxic culture continued, occasionally 'rebranding' for public consumption.
As a self-licensed financial advisor of over 35 years, much of what was revealed was hardly a surprise - AMP's 'Buyer of Last Resort' scandal, Westpac's 'liar' loans, CBA's fees for no service breaches, etc, etc - these are all symptoms of a broken business model in desperate need of an overhaul.
But this is healthy.
Its never much fun to see your profession thrown under a bus. Its personal and grossly unfair to the majority of advisers and institutions doing solid work. However, the optimist in me sees this as a healthy, long overdue 'purge'. And thanks to some outstanding investigative work, the Commission's findings are likely to finally stick this time around - this PR nightmare won't go away for the banks (or AMP), there will be consequences.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, my instinct is that a revolution is quietly taking place, one that will usher-in lasting change, bringing tangible benefits to consumers, the 'real' advice profession, and the Australian economy. Tougher laws, higher educational standards and technological disruption is coming. So stay tuned. The future looks bright.