WEDNESDAY, 8 DECEMBER 2021
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I begin by acknowledging the Wonnarua people, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today and pay my respects to their elders, past, present and emerging.
I’d also like to thank Peter Johnson and his team at the AIOFP for organising today’s event and all of you for coming along.
It’s an important time for your industry because it’s an important time for the clients you serve.
It’s never been more critical for Australians to access independent, trustworthy and cost-effective financial advice.
Because of the reforms of the Hawke and Keating governments, continued by the Rudd and Gillard governments, we now have a superannuation guarantee that is delivering 10 per cent of wages into our retirement income system – and will rise to 12 per cent by 2025.
Never have Australians retired with more wealth – and it’s thanks to the reforms of successive Labor governments.
Only Labor is committed to ensuring that our superannuation system continues to grow to 12 per cent.
The Liberals want to scrap the schedule increases to the superannuation guarantee levy – and if they’re elected, they will cut them.
Now is not the time to send Australians backwards.
The maturation of our superannuation system has put real financial power into the hands of many more Australians.
The investment options which confront them are more complex than ever.
Add to that an economy climbing its way out of a once-in-a-century pandemic and the case is clear.
And yet, it has never been harder for Australians to access that independent, trustworthy advice.
Indeed, under Scott Morrison’s watch the industry is being driven to the brink of existence.
By the end of this year, 11,000 financial advisors will have left the industry since 2018.
That’s about a 40 percent drop in just three years.
It’s predicted fewer than 17,000 financial advisors will remain in the industry come the start of next year.
This exodus has led to an estimated 28 percent jump in fees over the last two years.
That puts the cost of financial advice well beyond the reach of countless numbers of Australians.
And that in turn further shrinks the market.
These are startling figures that should cause alarm for a Prime Minister that likes to pretend he’s all about giving a go to those who get a go.
But like so much that this Prime Minister does, it’s all slogan and no program.
No plan to help those thousands of small business owners stay in business.
No plan to maintain the viability of this important industry that performs such a vital service within our economy.
In fact, there’s barely even an acknowledgement from the Government that there’s a problem.
Well, Labor does get it.
We recognise the value financial planners have in our system.
We want a viable industry.
We are listening and we will act.
Amongst egregious injuries Scott Morrison has inflicted on your industry, the most painful has to do with professional training.
Now, please understand Labor is fully committed to ensuring the highest possible professional standards for financial planners.
The bests interest of consumers must always come first.
I’m sure everyone in this room feels the same.
But there is no doubt the current Morrison Government system is to blame for the rush to the exits.
It’s not solving a problem, it’s creating one.
Requiring financial planners with years, even decades, of experience to complete a bachelor’s degree or lose their licence doesn’t make sense.
It is a waste of public and private resources.
It is driving the best and wisest heads out of the industry.
It’s adding cost and removing valuable time from businesses that would otherwise be healthy.
And it’s treating mid-career professionals like undergraduates.
We need a system that recognises the wealth of knowledge held by experienced advisers.
This has been recommended to this failed Liberal government time and time again.
Successive financial services ministers and treasurers, including Kelly O’Dwyer and Jane Hume, have dismissed these recommendations and carried on with the process of pushing adviser out of the industry.
That’s why I’m happy to announce that an Albanese Labor Government will properly recognise your experience.
If you’ve been working for a decade as a financial advisor with a good record, a Labor Government will not ask to you take that bachelor’s degree to keep your qualifications.
We’re going to assume that that ten years plus experience is worth at least a degree.
To be clear, we are in no way scrapping the professional standards reforms.
We will still expect advisers to pass their professional exams, and meet continuing professional development requirements, and abide by an appropriate professional code of ethics.
But we won’t be asking you to waste your time on degrees you don’t need.
We’re going to treat you like professionals.
And we’re going clear the way so you can get on with the job of getting valuable advice to people who need it at a cost they can afford.
This is not revolutionary stuff.
Your industry has been asking for this approach for years.
The bipartisan parliamentary inquiry into advice in 2016 recommended it, with Labor’s full backing.
It is difficult to fathom why the Government has ignored your industry, its own inquiry and the clarion call of basic common sense.
Maybe their own squabbles took precedence.
Maybe Scott Morrison just couldn’t be bothered.
Or maybe actually just doing something even this straightforward just terrifies them.
At the end of the day, though, the “why” doesn’t matter.
What matters is getting this issue fixed, getting your industry back on its feet and, most importantly, making sure Australians get that advice.
That’s why I’m pleased to bring you this commitment today from Anthony Albanese’s team at Labor and to hopefully provide a light at the end of the tunnel as we all head into a well-deserved holiday period.