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The 2019 FPA Professionals Congress featured 24 workshops, a leading line up of keynote speakers, a rundown of the latest FPA initiatives, and insights into the future of advice.
With the financial planning profession coming to terms with the fallout from the Royal Commission recommendations and the FASEA education standards, over 1,400 delegates converged on Melbourne over 27-29 November to recalibrate, recharge and receive the latest updates on their profession at the 2019 FPA Professionals Congress.
In welcoming delegates, FPA Chair Marisa Broome CFP® said the past 12 months had been a ‘roller-coaster’ period for the profession, with some notable achievements and some setbacks along the way.
But despite these setbacks, FPA CEO Dante De Gori CFP® said the future looked bright for the profession, conceding there were still some challenging times ahead.
“There are the new FASEA education standards and exam that practitioners need to adhere to, and there are pressures on some business models, as they adapt and transition to new models,” De Gori said. “But the FPA remains firmly committed to support every planner and licensee through these changes. We are here for you.”
Challenges aside, Broome said the FPA had notched up some impressive achievements over 2019, including rolling out a range of tools and resources that have been designed to help members adapt to the changing advice landscape. These include the online education and study hub, FPA Return to Learn, FPA Wellbeing, My CPD, the FASEA Code of Ethics toolkit, the Match My Planner tool, fintech evaluation tools and guides, as well as the National Roadshow, which visited 33 locations.
De Gori added that through the FPA’s consistent advocacy work throughout the year, it had helped to ensure fairer standards set by FASEA, while having a good working relationship with policymakers in Canberra.
The FPA used Congress to launch a new online initiative – FPA Community. This new online community platform enables FPA members to form deeper connections with each other and share views with their professional peers in a secure environment.
In launching FPA Community, Broome said that during this time of change for the profession, there was a need for planners to share information on the topics that were important to them. She said FPA Community provided a new way for FPA members to connect, collaborate and communicate in a secure and trusted setting.
“We know our members have never been busier and taking time out of their week to attend FPA events can be challenging for some. We also have remote FPA members spread right across Australia who may have trouble travelling. So, FPA Community provides an easy and convenient way to communicate and share with other members online when it suits each member best,” De Gori said.
FPA Community is accessible from all types of devices – computer, tablet and mobile. Members can use their existing member login to start or join a discussion, ask a question and share views.
There will also be a variety of online groups for members to choose from and join. For example, each FPA Chapter will have its own group, so members can connect with local members, and groups will also be centred around special interest topics.
Once members have joined a discussion, notifications will go direct to their email inbox and they can reply and respond to discussions simply by replying by email.
For more information on FPA Community, click here.
The paper considers the major issues that will affect the profession over the next five years, including the affordability of advice, how planners interact with their clients, and the health of the profession.
De Gori encouraged FPA members to contribute their views to the discussion paper via the FPA Community online forum, with their feedback forming the basis of the FPA’s new policy initiatives for the next five years.
“The FPA has a proud history of advocating for reforms that advance the financial planning profession, including education standards, ethics and professionalism,” he said.
“Back in 2014, the FPA released a landmark white paper on the future of the financial planning profession, providing a vision for elevating the profession and building consumer trust. In that paper, 10 key milestones were identified. The FPA’s advocacy since that time has resulted in nine of those 10 points being adopted – a proud achievement.
“Now we must look to the future and evolve our vision for the profession over the next five years. Feedback from members will underpin our policy and advocacy work, so that we can promote new reforms that will benefit Australian consumers and financial planners alike. The FPA’s policy platform provides an opportunity for us to lead the conversation about the future of financial advice in this country and how we can better serve Australian consumers,” De Gori said.
FPA members can contribute their views by responding to a series of questions in FPA Community, which will be available in early December 2019.
The Future of SOAs
Congress was also an opportunity for the FPA to present the findings of research conducted by its Future of the Statement of Advice (SOA) Working Group. The findings showed examples of available technology and services that can help planners develop more meaningful client experiences during the advice process.
Commenting on the findings, De Gori said digital SOAs are the key to improving the advice experience. He added that by adopting technology to deliver advice in a smarter, safer and more efficient way, the best client outcomes can be reached.
“The future of financial advice delivery will be one where every client is given their own individual, tailored experience based on their unique communication and behavioural preferences,” De Gori said.
“It will harness the power of appropriate digital technology solutions to make the experience a meaningful and more engaging one for the client. It’s about prioritising what’s best for the client, rather than simply ticking compliance and legal requirements.”
De Gori added that the Government and regulators had been encouraging the financial planning profession to work towards clearer, concise and more effective SOA documents that move in step with advancements in technology, thereby improving the end-user experience.
This year, the FPA invited a diverse group of financial planning professionals – including FPA members, regulators, compliance experts, lawyers, licensees, content and digital media specialists, and advice technology specialists – to form a working group, with the challenge to create a vision of what the future SOA could look and feel like.
Importantly, the working group agreed there were no legal or regulatory barriers to members creating and delivering advice digitally.
“Our approach has been to review the SOA with fresh eyes, reassess its purpose and look into what the next decade of advice delivery could be for consumers and how it can be improved. As part of this, we explored how technology can be harnessed to improve the advice experience and progress the evolution of the SOA,” said FPA Head of Policy and Standards, Ben Marshan CFP®.
The FPA has been working with fintech companies to create digital SOA technology and has conducted consumer testing on digital SOA examples. All consumers tested agreed that they much preferred a digital SOA and the ability to engage with and learn from their advice, rather than read paper-based SOAs.
The FPA has concluded that different modes of communication, such as video, audio, imagery, infographics, graphs and quizzes, are very effective ways to deliver advice.
“Our vision for the near future is to enable clients to engage with their own personal, interactive, real-time financial plan, in a secure portal or on a smartphone app,” said Marshan. “It’s about ‘breaking paper’ – we must utilise the full breadth of digital, tech and communication modes available to allow advice delivery to be more accessible, personalised and meaningful for clients.”
Future2 and Awards
With well over $1 million in Future2 Make the Difference! Grants being given to not-for-profit organisations since the inception of the Future2 Foundation in 2007, Congress also acknowledged the participation of cyclists and hikers in this year’s Future2 Challenges.
Cyclist Phillip Win CFP® (Profile Financial Services) was presented with the Jack Griffin Memorial Award for having fundraised the highest individual amount for the Future2 Wheel Classic, while Iress took out the Susan Grice Honorary Award for fundraising the highest team amount. Craig Phillips AFP® (Phillips Wealth Partners) received the Purple Pedal Award, which recognised his personal achievement in participating in this arduous event.
The Future2 Hiking Challenge Award went to Anne Graham CFP® LRS® and David Graham CFP® (Story Wealth Management) for their efforts in fundraising the highest individual amount together. This was the third consecutive year they have received this award.
The FPA also recognised the outstanding achievements of its members with a series of FPA Awards announced at Congress. The 2019 FPA Award winners were:
FPA CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® Professional of the Year Award – Andrew Dunbar CFP® of Apt Wealth Partners
FPA Financial Planner AFP® of the Year Award – Crystal Bobir AFP® of Tupicoffs
FPA Paraplanner of the Year Award – Lachlan Haigh of Tupicoffs