Financial advisers just scored a major victory in Parliament

Alex Burke,  Senior Writer,  No More Practice Education

As per the new Statutory Declarations Regulations 2018, financial planners and advisers have now been granted the ability to sign statutory declarations.

Advisers now join medical practitioners, lawyers, psychologists, architects and others on the list of professions able to sign documents used to "legally verify names, addresses, insurance claims, superannuation matters, lost passports and as evidence to support sick leave" under Commonwealth legislation.

 

What it means for clients

The decision follows a determined lobbying effort from the Financial Planning Association, who said the change will offer clients a "cost effective and efficient process for legally verifying important documents."

"Previously," the FPA noted in its statement welcoming the change, "clients had to find an authorised witness, often at additional unnecessary expense and inconvenience."

FPA chief executive Dante De Gori said the association "has been calling for the Government to recognise financial planners in this manner for over a decade as it will enable our members to better service their clients on a daily basis."

He added: "Financial planners help people simplify their finances and set achievable goals, particularly in relations to complex matters such as superannuation, tax planning, debt management, investments and retirement."

 

What it means for the industry

As De Gori noted, the “profession will be able to act as a trustworthy and authorised witness to the important documentation needed for a financial plan.” This makes life easier for advisers and clients from a practical standpoint, but it speaks to a wider victory: that this legislation reflects a growing recognition of financial advice as a true profession.

De Gori recently spoke with us about this very issue. He said that he was “absolutely looking at the day in which we don't have to say that we're professionals – we just are.”

“I know that it's a generational change,” he continued, “but I'm here representing not only the current group of financial planners and members, but also tomorrow's financial planner. It's my dream to say that we can put the flag on the hill and say, ‘We're here.’ It's an ongoing exercise, of course, but I do want to get over issues of being accused of conflicts.”

After all, he added, “you look at other professions – there’s always going to be a rogue doctor or a rogue lawyer, but that doesn't put into question the whole profession.

“I need to leave the FPA and the financial planning profession in a better position than when I started, and that's what I aspire to do. For me, I'll do whatever it takes to get there.”


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