As an industry, we are very much in the spotlight and to be honest, it’s nothing short of ugly. Many points that are coming to light include negligence, dishonesty and conflict-based advice but what about the advice that is good? What about the advice that has helped so many thousands of Australian achieve their goals and are in a better financial position?  We won’t hear any mention of this and to be honest, it is not what the Royal Commission is about.
But let’s take a moment to consider the advice that is in the client’s best interest yet when you read it, it may be hard for a client to understand – there’s too much jargon or it’s inconsistent or, god forbid, grammar isn’t one of the Advisers strengths!! How can you as a business or Licensee check SOA’s to ensure it meets your professional and compliance guidelines but doesn’t send you bankrupt due to the time and cost involved with reviewing the document before giving it to the client.
Undertaking a SOA Quality Review (SQR) is not a costly exercise yet it helps to identify areas that could improve the positioning of the advice. It isn’t a laborious nor militant compliance audit but a review that helps give you confidence that the advice is appropriate and in the clients best interest.
The concept is to conduct an independent 3rd party review of completed SOA’s. By only looking at the SOA and not the full file, qualified reviewers consider, from a client’s perspective, how the document can be interpreted and how well it reads. Are there too many acronyms or jargon? Are all areas of advice clearly explained? Are there systemic issues? Are the Clients names correct!? This is not a detailed compliance audit but a review for quality and consistency of data, document accuracy and appropriate inclusions – such as projection disclaimers, product replacement or gearing disclosures.  
Now is the time, to take the time, to get it right. Clients will be more distrustful than ever before so don’t give them a reason to
walk out your door because your SOA can be better.

Xmas is over (thank heavens) but conferences are coming – have you the right HR policies to cover yourself and your business when staff get ‘untidy’?

What is an acceptable amount to drink at work? ……and how do you manage this situation in the workplace?
It can be difficult for employers to negotiate the line between allowing staff to let their hair down in the office or at a work-related event, and enforcing a standard of acceptable conduct.
Recent case law shows that it’s not just employees that may be hit with the negative consequences for drunk and disorderly conduct.
Employer policies, practices and procedures are likely to be scrutinised if action is taken against an employee for being under the influence – and mistakes can be costly.
As a business owner, DO you have an up to date Alcohol & Drug Policy? And are all your staff aware of the policy and understand their responsibilities?

Is it time for you to consider an independent RM on your Licence?
Sometimes you can get too caught up in your own business that you can miss the little things that can ultimately become big issues which cost time, money and your reputation. Running your own Licence requires many specialists in many fields to make sure the business is profitable, efficient and compliant. In relation to compliance and having Responsible Managers, unless a licensee is a one-person business, under RG105.38, ASIC expects that there is a minimum of 2 RM’s per licence or a 3rd RM as the licensee grows.

It is often difficult to have an internal resource that has the skills required as the 2nd or 3rd RM. Paul Forbes, CEO Australian Advice Network says “There are a number of reasons Licensees should consider a 3rd Party Responsible Manager (RM) for their licence.

 1) The first is ‘Accountability’. Internal RM’s are usually managing several roles within the licence and may even be practicing advisers. This can lead to priority issues and a 3rd party RM can assist in accountability by ensuring meetings are held, minutes completed and action items are followed up.

2)    Skill set. While internal RMs have ongoing education requirements a 3rd Party RM often brings a far more diverse set of skil to the table. As their role is specialised, and they have oversight on a number of licences, they can bring diverse opinions and solutions to the licence. 

3)    Challenging the ‘house’ view. A licence with only internal RMs can become mired in the house view and not see alternatives or even recognise the threats to the licence. A 3rd party to challenge in-house thinking and provide a broader industry framework can be invaluable.

Australian Advice Network has included a 3rd party RM in its panel for over twelve months and would absolutely recommend it to licensees of all sizes.
Strategic Outsource Solutions has contractors who are Responsible Managers located throughout Australia. Jenni Erbel, Director has said there is a growing trend with the number of requests they have for specialists to work with various Licences and Fund Managers.
“Many Licensees are seeking the 3rd party opinion to challenge decisions, review processes and ensure the Licence is meeting its obligations. Often it is hard for an employee to make a stand on what should be done so to have a contractor put forward their view, elps with the discussions and improvements within the business” .

Don’t try and do it all yourself – listen to others and use their experience…. you may not like what you hear but ultimately, it’s to help you and your business.

Download the attached checklist document