Not interested in planners?

The Investment and Financial Services Association (IFSA) held its annual conference on the Gold Coast last week and, in light of recent events, readers of Money Management may care to reflect upon whom the organisation really represents.


IFSA’s lists reveal that it can lay claim to a membership that encompasses funds managers, banks, insurers, superannuation funds and dealer groups. But in whose interests does it really act?


  IFSA asserts that any organisation actively participating in the managed investments, superannuation or life insurance industries is eligible for full voting membership. It then states that any organisation that provides professional and other services to the managed investments, superannuation or life insurance industries and supports the objectives of the association is eligible for non-voting supporting membership, including law firms, accounting firms, custodians, software providers, advisory and consulting firms.


Perhaps, though, the most telling indicator of who IFSA really represents is the make-up of its board, currently led by the chief executive of Perpetual, David Deverall, and boasting the chief executives of fund managers, insurers and other product manufacturers. The voice of financial planning is arguably conveyed by people such as Colonial First State’s Brian Bissaker and AMP’s Craig Meller.


In other words, the IFSA view of financial planning is very much the view conveyed by full members such as MLC, AMP and Aviva. Dealer group Professional Investment Services is a full member, but Count Financial is a supporting member.


So the bottom line for financial planners is that the degree to which they can expect their interests to be represented by IFSA is dependent upon whether they are allied to the likes of AMP, Macquarie or Colonial First State.


There was a time when it was argued that an organisation such as IFSA was capable of representing the interests of the entire financial services industry. Recent events, including the Federal Government’s intra-fund advice regime decision, suggest IFSA is best at representing those to whom it grants full membership.


Financial planners may often be vocally critical of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and the Association of Financial Advisers(AFA), but they can be in no doubt about whose interests the two organisations really represent.

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