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20 years of Australian Unity Advice: Reflecting on the impact of our business and the opportunity ahead

Article by Matt Brown – Executive General Manager, AU Advice

This year, Australian Unity marks its twentieth year in financial advice with the then financial planning business formed in 2002.
In this article, Matt Brown reflects on the impact of our business across the community, the role of advice in nurturing client wellbeing and the significant opportunity that lies ahead for the profession after a tumultuous few years.

The past few years have seen a sharp decline in the number of Australian organisations committed to providing financial advice. More than 10,000 advisers have exited the industry since the Hayne Royal Commission, citing new reporting and education requirements, rising costs, and burnout. This should be a concern for our country, particularly as Australians navigate a turbulent market and recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

We at Australian Unity started our financial planning arm in 2002—20 years ago this year. During this time, our high-quality financial advice has helped Australians navigate all sorts of challenges, big and small. From a global financial crisis, to devastating fires and floods, seven federal elections, and a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Reflecting on this 20-year milestone, I am proud of the role Australian Unity has played in this time. But more importantly, despite the challenges at play in the advice industry at the moment, I am optimistic for the future of advice.

While the business of helping more Australians access financial advice has not been fashionable or commercially prized in recent years, Australian Unity’s modus operandi has always been to operate businesses that directly nurture the wellbeing of our members and communities across Australia. Be it financial advice, aged care, social infrastructure development, trustee services, we go where we can make a difference.

More Australians desperately need financial advice. Global tensions, market volatility and the COVID-19 pandemic in particular have driven a rise in the number of Australians seeking financial counsel. People find it easier to seek help for their financial problems than their mental health concerns. No matter the client’s circumstances, the best advisers see and hear it all and always act in the client’s best interest. That’s the job, and it’s an incredibly important one.

So why does Australian Unity back the business of advice?

  • Because clients need financial advice more than ever. In an interview with Alan Kohler recently, Mike Callaghan’s advice to ageing Australians, after the completion of the 638-page report on the review of nation’s retirement system which he chaired, was to ‘get advice.’
  • Because research shows that those who receive financial advice—not only see their financial wellbeing improve, but their mental and physical health. We have seen in our own 22-year partnership with Deakin University on the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index that financial health and physical wellbeing go hand-in-hand.
  • Because we want to see more options for Australians in their retirement years. Australia’s superannuation system is the envy of the world, with $3.5 trillion in assets at the beginning of the year and growing fast. However, with Australia’s rapidly ageing population, the future success of superannuation will be about how well it promotes the wellbeing of Australians after retirement and into the older years. This means superannuation must continue evolving to work with our retirement living, aged care, housing, accommodation, and healthcare systems. Through this period, financial advisers will be central to the process, ensuring Australians have access to more options inside & outside our super system that truly meet their needs as they age.
  • Because our super and retirement system needs to be easier for people to understand and navigate. Part of this involves building Australians’ financial literacy to support people to adequately plan for their retirement and make the most of their assets.
  • Because we want to better incorporate health prevention initiatives in retirement income policy, with research repeatedly signaling that financial health and physical health are inextricably linked.

 

Finally, Australian Unity believes in the business of financial advice because, regardless of the short-term challenges to the viability of advice delivery, action is underway to simplify the delivery of advice, client demand remains strong, and clear opportunities exist to help more Australians using digital technology. These are just some of the factors that in future will ensure more Australians have access to high quality advice, no matter their life stage, income, superannuation balance or net worth. And for us at Australian Unity, helping these clients is the driving purpose for the work we do, day in and day out.


Important Information
The information provided on this website is general in nature. We have not considered your financial circumstances, needs or objectives and you should seek the assistance of your Australian Unity Personal Financial Services (AUPFS) authorised representative before you make any decision regarding any strategy or financial products mentioned on this website. Whilst all care has been taken in the preparation of this material, no warranty is given in respect of the information provided and accordingly neither AUPFS nor its related entities, employees or agents shall be liable on any ground whatsoever with respect to decisions or actions taken as a result of you acting upon such information.

The trustee for Plus 7 Financial Management trust trading as Plus 7 Financial Management ABN 11 211 901 965 is a corporate authorised representative (no. 1007915) of Australian Unity Personal Financial Services LTD (AUPFS) ABN 26 098 725 145, an Australian Financial Service Licence Holder (AFSL No. 234459).

View our financial services guide (FSG) FSG (AUPFS) | FSG (John Hockey) | FSG (Andre DiMatteo)

Australian Unity Personal Financial Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian Unity Limited. Australian Unity respects your privacy, refer to our privacy policy for more information.

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