A new consulting firm and model with a difference

30 January 2020 | Industry Moves

Former Cbus head of advice and retirement, Greg Harper, last year left the fund to start up his own consulting firm called FASI, in order to offer specialised consultancy on financial advice services for a broad cross-section of the industry. He speaks to Industry Moves about his motivation and shares some general observations on the financial advice service industry.

Why did you start up FASI?
I left Cbus to start FASI. FASI is about working with the industry to play an important leadership role that inspires quality, efficiency and compliance to uphold community expectations.

When done correctly, it will unify service actions and engagement with the law – in the best interest of the member/client…and also achieve much better and sustainable commercial outcomes for the organisation, which provides those financial advice services.

What’s different about your FASI QECp360™ Advice Service Model?
What FASI is about, and the FASI model is about, is a non-conflicted, non-obstructed, thoroughly integrated financial advice service model.

It’s a whole of organisation approach and an ongoing commitment to provide professional advice services with a focus on quality, efficiency and compliance without conflict or obstruction.

A quintessential and unique aspect of the FASI QECp360™ Advice Service Model is to ensure that the operational performance measures and outcomes for financial advisers/planners are monitored and managed independently from the organisation’s financial performance measures and outcomes.

FASI is about getting your house in order from the foundation up. The foundation is the most critical part to ensure that you meet your fiduciary responsibility and custodial obligations.

What are your thoughts on the financial advice service industry in general post the banking royal commission?
If you have a look at the history we go back to impropriety with royal commission reports every few years, but royal commissions, improper service behaviour and Mums and Dads and Nans and Pops losing their life savings, that’s gone on since day dot.

If you think of the law as the roof, it could be said that the foundation of the industry is still rotting and the foundation has always been rotting because the conflicted performance measures for financial advisers/planners do not align with quality, efficiency and compliance. This was a key finding from the recent royal commission.

You’ve got to implement and regulate greater change at a foundation level. The industry is definitely missing that critical part.

People think of product commission incentives as conflicted, but there are many other conflicts as well.

I want to be supportive of the whole industry, but the industry needs a shakeup and the only way that it will happen is if it is forced upon it.

What needs to change?
Operational performance measures for financial advisers/planners should be distinctly separate from an organisation’s financial performance targets – which should be a management reference tool only.

The only way you will get better outcomes and sustainable change is if the industry is forced to put in place operational performance planning measures that do not incentivise revenue, product sales, number of statements of advice, etc. Part of the foundation is challenging any part of your business to not only remove obvious conflicted performance models but also where they may not be so obvious. The service outcome must always be in the best interest of your member/client.

Instead of KPIs on revenue, products sales and the number of SoAs, it should be KPIs on the quality of advice, client advice outcomes, compliance, professional engagement, technical competence, attention to detail, closure of actions, etc. A professional service that is driven by quality, efficiency and compliance will mitigate risk and produce strong and sustainable financial performance results.

Management’s role is to establish the aligned operational model and performance framework. They also have an obligation to provide efficient tools, streamlined administration, automation, integrated service functionality and observe, coach and support their staff to achieve the appropriate outcomes.

There is also enormous scope for superannuation funds to maximise their intra-fund advice service provisions within the legal remit; and to build effective service and product distribution networks for their non-intra-fund advice services in the best interest of their members….always through the lens of quality, efficiency and compliance.