In so many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest fast-forward button for the repair of the advice industry - repairing critical reputation damage done by bad press and the Royal Commission findings.
It’s very rewarding to now see a focus from Government on reducing red tape and compliance so that more Australians can access financial advice. It is also particularly positive that pretty much everyone now recognises that financial advice is the only way to make a plan for your finances post-COVID.
So, from bad news comes a positive outcome for the industry. And while planners are again in the spotlight, this time it is for positive reasons. The great job you are doing, the performance of your clients and the need for more people to access your services. What a difference two years makes.
It now seems that the new target for government and public indignation is super funds. Somehow, super has become an enemy to many, as it is the political prize that both sides of the fence value. And now, because of the sheer size of the super industry, the big funds are starting to exert pressure on companies and the broader community for important issues like climate change and gender equality. The world needs this.
Of course, this has traditionally been the mandate of Government, and it is interesting to watch the target on fees and performance of super as the new political conversation unfolds.
This worries me as much as it did with financial planners. This is not the time to cast doubt on our most successful policy ever that has given us the fourth-largest savings pool in the world. There is no way that Australians would have saved to this extent without the super system. And giving them “their money” now has seen many spend it in ways with no long-term return and ultimately making them more reliant on Government help when they are at retirement age.
So it is now time for planners to use their positive glow to remind people how important super is.
It’s time for them to remind people that super is the vehicle to ensure a dignified retirement in a world that no longer has any guarantees regarding the quality of our future. While politicians can tussle over who controls what, I will be supporting the super industry and promoting its good just as I have financial advice.
We cannot afford for people to lose faith in our system - and it appears public opinion is already turning negatively toward the super industry for “fee-gouging” and other notions that are certainly not the norm for most super funds. You can see the quality of their initiatives in our latest season of After Hours here.
The finance industry does not seem to be given a break by government and press - purely because of its value and power. This means we must constantly remind the public of the good we do. While it may be unrealistic to think we'll ever be actively liked, due to the very nature of our society, we can be regarded as a critical part of the solution to recover from the pandemic and forge a new world.
Ripping different parts of the industry down does not help that. Only service and best intent will.
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