Financial services minister Kelly O’Dwyer has outlined five steps the federal government is taking to make financial planning a more honest and competent profession.
Ms O’Dwyer, in an address to the Association of Financial Advisers’ national conference, said government policy is designed to improve the consumer experience.
“Consumers need to have confidence in the products they are investing in and that the advice they are receiving is conflict-free and in their best interests,” she said.
“They need to know that the regulator is monitoring the market and able to intervene if needed. And if things go wrong, they have a path to remedy and compensation.”
Ms O’Dwyer said the government has and is doing five things to achieve those goals:
- Raising the education, training and ethical standards of financial advisers
- Improving the financial literacy of both adults and students
- Establishing the Australian Financial Complaints Authority
- Giving new regulatory powers to ASIC, the financial services regulator
- Imposing new design and distribution obligations for issuers and distributers of financial products
Industry urged to restore trust
The financial planning industry has a responsibility to rebuild its reputation, which has been damaged by “the acts of some rogue financial planners”, according to Ms O’Dwyer.
“To do this, financial advisers will not only need to have the necessary technical and strategic skills, but also the ethical awareness required to provide outcomes for consumers that are in their best interests,” she said.
“Financial advice is no longer just an occupation — it is now a profession. And it is a profession that can, and must, give Australians the confidence to seek advice, to help them secure their future.”
Ms O’Dwyer said her ambition as a minister is to set the course toward making financial planning a universally respected profession.
“I want to see all Australians have the confidence to seek financial advice to help them secure their prosperity,” she added.