AFA embraces effort to gain profession status


By Leanne Abbas

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The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) has expressed its aim to “break the glass ceiling” and reclassify the financial services industry as a recognised professional body in the light of recent reforms.

Speaking at the association’s GenXt Connect Tour in Sydney yesterday, AFA chief executive Brad Fox said it was essential to understand what it took to be part of a profession if advisers wanted to be on top of the professional standards legislation that was passed in the Senate last Thursday.

He also shared the AFA’s desire to be part of discussions in the forthcoming industry professional standards body about what should be in the code of ethics.

“Part of the legislation says that in order for advisers to continue to practise, they will need to sign up to a code of ethics through a code monitoring scheme,” he said.

“The legislation applying this code to every adviser is leading up to what the public expect under these definitions of a ‘profession’ and what is a ‘professional’.

“And that is that you are a member of your profession, that you are governed by a code of ethics and that you’ve made a commitment to competence, integrity, morality and altruism and to the promotion of the public good.”

However, Fox said passing ASIC’s approval process to become a recognised professional body was not going to be easy.

“We’ll not only have to prove that we have the intent to proactively monitor our members in adherence to the code of ethics but we’ll have to prove that we’ll have the resources, the processes, people and all the other elements,” he said.

“We will have to prove beyond any doubt that if there is a conflict arising for the AFA around making a decision to benefit our members or benefit the public at large, we must fall on side of benefiting the public.

“That aligns what’s required of the professional bodies with what is required of you as the financial adviser.”

Fox said the AFA was prepared to do whatever it took for the industry to gain the public’s confidence.

“We passionately believe in the value of financial advice and we want to smash this glass ceiling, but we don’t get to do that until we improve the level of confidence and trust that people have about financial advice as a profession and you as an individual,” he said.

A live poll during the event indicated 95 per cent of attendees believed the AFA should become an ASIC-approved professional body, while a significant majority also believed the association should name and shame individuals who had committed a major code of ethics breach.

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