In a busy year for the financial advice sector the 2016 AFA National Adviser Conference, held in Canberra in early October, addressed the issue of adaptive change and how advisers should draw on the best of what they are doing and that of their peers, to be ready for the next wave of change.
That wave seemed to be some way off with the Life Insurance Framework (LIF) looming in the distance until Minister for Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer announced to trade media at the conference that legislation would be introduced into Parliament in a matter of days.
The AFA itself was subject to change with an EGM of members called to decide whether the Association should adopt a formal position against the LIF legislation, which was then followed by the Asscoiation’s AGM. The EGM resolution failed to gain support while the AGM saw recently elected board members taking on the mantle of their predecessors.
While LIF will continue to form the backdrop for many years to come, the Conference agenda worked through the big picture issues – including handling change and increase the reach of insurance, as well as the day to day issues advisers face in their businesses – charging for advice, staffing issues and having the tough conversations with clients.
As in previous years the Conference delivered its plenary speakers and focus sessions under three AFA learning pillars – adviser performance, business performance and advice strategy – with many discussion during sessions continuing outside in hallways, over coffee and during lunch breaks.
The AFA continued to recognise quality advice and efforts to improve the face of advice with a number of awards, from Rising Star, to Excellence in Education, Female Excellence in Advice, Practice of the Year and Adviser of the Year.
Reflecting the changing demographics of the industry – and the conference, at which a third of attendees were under 44 and a third were women – many of the finalists and winners were younger advisers reaching clients who have never accessed financial advice.
Advisers also made the most of the social settings provided with the Exhibition area filled with the free exchange of ideas between delegates, something which spilled over into the social events and the closing Gala Dinner.