Three lessons on leadership from the Royal Commission

Vanessa Stoykov,  creator,  No More Practice

As we head toward to the close of 2018, the impact of the Royal Commission is still sending shockwaves throughout the industry. It will be many years of pulling apart and reassembling business models to see the full outcomes achieved, but already there are signs of change in the way people are thinking and planning for the future from a leadership perspective.

As a leader of any organisation, whether it be an advice business or a major institution, these questions need to be asked when future strategy is developed.


1. Where is the client in this?

In filming our new show After Hours with superannuation CEOs, which will be launched next year, some funds had particular and practical ways of putting the member first. First State Super had a figurine of a client on the table in every meeting room around the country. People would hold up this figure as they developed strategy and ideas to give them a voice in the meeting. We are going to see more need for this kind of practical execution from leaders who need to remind their team on a daily basis that every decision has the client involved first.

2. Is our leader ready to have a public voice?

The outcome of the Royal Commission is that people have lost even more trust in institutions. But, ultimately, people still trust people. So having a leader that has a strong public profile and vision for the business will be more critical than ever before. It’s like politics - people vote for an individual first. Leaders need to devote an even bigger portion of their time talking to the public and painting their vision - then sticking to it.

3. Why are we in this?

Obviously listed companies are there to serve shareholder interests, and their clients. But the purpose of why we are doing what we do is sometimes lost in financial services. I thought this was summed up beautifully by outgoing CEO of First State Super, Michael Dwyer, when he talks about the humanity of what we are all doing. Organisations without a purpose or a ‘why’ are less likely to have staff invested in what they are doing - let alone the client base and broader population. Figuring out the ‘why’ in a succinct and easy to communicate way is harder than it looks. While it’s easy to fill a brochure with tons of information, a one-line purpose and mission statement takes a lot of work and internal reflection as an organisation. The ‘why’ will be one of the most important pieces of the leadership puzzle for 2019 and beyond.


We have seen leaders confess, deny, fall on their sword, and defend their position in this Royal Commission. But think about the ones you found inspiring. That you wanted to follow and ultimately believe in. Because if you can’t believe it about yourself or your leader, chances are the public never will.

Until next time,


The opinions expressed in this content are those of the author shown, and do not necessarily represent those of No More Practice Education Pty Ltd or its related entities. All content is intended for a professional financial adviser audience only and does not constitute financial advice. To view our full terms and conditions, click here.

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