Nearly 5 years ago, SuperGuide embarked on a long and arduous mission. We decided that we wanted to find every independent financial adviser in Australia, and to give these advisers an opportunity to let SuperGuide readers know that they exist.
For the past 4 years or so we have published a list of independent financial advisers. Initially, the advisers needed to be a member of the Independent Financial Advisers Association of Australia (IFAAA) to be included on our list, due to the need for verification of the independence requirements under the Corporations Act, and the fact that the IFAAA imposed a further requirement (in addition to the legal requirements), that an adviser did not charge asset-based fees.
In June 2012, we opened the list to non-IFAAA advisers, and we have also created a special category for advisers who satisfy the independence definition under the Corporations Act, but who also charge asset-based fees.
An independent financial adviser is fairly rare apparently, but we are certain that there are more than 17 independent advisers in Australia (for SuperGuide’s current list of independent advisers, see article Financial advice: Only 17 (9 + 5 + 3) independent financial advisers in Australia).
Seeking Australia’s independent advisers
The SuperGuide team is keen to encourage all independent advisers to join the SuperGuide independent adviser list, which is now split into three categories:
- IFAAA members
- Advisers who satisfy the three limbs of independence required by the Corporations Act plus do NOT charge asset-based fees. Namely, advisers who could join IFAAA, but choose not to do so.
- Advisers who satisfy the three limbs of independence required by the Corporations Act, but who MAY/DO charge asset-based fees
Note: The IFAAA’s definition of ‘independence’ adds a further requirement that advisers only charge hourly rates or retainer fees, rather than charge asset-based fees.
Important: SuperGuide is simply providing a list of independent advisers, based on external verification and external confirmation, rather than SuperGuide’s own investigations. Any consumers seeking to use an adviser will need to conduct their own research to ensure the adviser satisfies the independence requirements, and to ensure that such an adviser is suitable for your financial needs. If a reader believes any adviser on the SuperGuide lists doesn’t satisfy the independence requirements please contact SuperGuide on firstname.lastname@example.org ,and report the adviser to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
If you satisfy the limbs of independence (you don’t charge commissions or you rebate commissions, you’re not affiliated with a product manufacturer, you don’t receive volume-based remuneration or receipt of gifts from product manufacturers) under section 923A of the Corporations Act, and you are willing to stake your reputation on that fact by signing a statement that you satisfy the definition of independence, then we will include you on the SuperGuide list.
The statement you need to sign is set out at the end of this article. You can send the signed statement to: email@example.com .
We would like to thank Kevin Smith of Professional Super Advisers, and Daniel Brammall of Brocktons Independent Advisory, for their assistance in drafting the statement of independence set out below.
On 2 May 2012, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has warned all AFS licence holders that they are prohibited from using the terms, ‘independent’, ‘unbiased’ or ‘impartial’ if they receive commission or volume-based payments. If ASIC finds an adviser has presented incorrect information about the adviser’s independence, then ASIC plans to take strong action including publicly naming and shaming the licensees involved.
Instructions for completing the statement of independence
- If you are a member of the IFAAA, you do not need to complete the statement of independence, but SuperGuide will seek verification of your membership from the IFAAA.
- If you charge asset-based fees, then please delete or cross out item (iv) from your signed statement. You will then appear in the list that contains advisers who satisfy the three limbs of independence required by the Corporations Act, but who may charge asset-based fees.
- Please send your signed statement to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The statement of independence is for SuperGuide records only and will not be published or circulated. The one exception will be if ASIC requests copies of the statements. Upon request, we will forward the signed statements to the regulator.
- The statement is to be completed by each adviser, rather than for the company behind the adviser. An advisory company can have more than adviser in the list, providing they satisfy the independence requirements.
[start of statement]
STATEMENT OF INDEPENDENCE
I confirm that [insert name of financial adviser] of [insert company name/AFSL holder] meets the definition of independence in Section 923A of the Corporations Act 2001 in that the adviser, the company, its employees or representatives:
(i) does NOT accept commissions (apart from commissions that are rebated in full to the person’s clients)
(ii) is NOT affiliated with a bank, insurance or investment company (that is, a product manufacturer)
(iii) does NOT receive forms of remuneration calculated on the basis of the volume of business placed by the person with an issuer of a financial product
(iv) is fee-for-service and does NOT charge asset-based fees (that is, a percentage of client assets under advice or under management) [delete this item if you do charge asset-based fees]
(v) Does NOT receive gifts or benefits from an issuer of a financial product which may reasonably be expected to influence the person.
I also confirm that the Australian Financial Services Licence holder meets the definition of independence in Section 923A of the Corporations Act 2001.
If at any time, I, [insert name of financial adviser] or [insert company name/AFSL holder] fails to meet these requirements, I will inform SuperGuide immediately of this change in circumstances.
Signature of adviser
[end of statement]