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It's time for RFAs to make some noise

If you are an RFA and you intend to be a business owner that's more than just a salesperson into the future, you need to make your voice heard, Jon-Paul Hale says.

Monday, June 18th 2018, 6:05AM 1 Comment

by Jon-Paul Hale

Picking up on my last article and the bit that really rubs me the wrong way.

From what I have seen to date, of the changes that are coming, the attitude of the advisers in the industry towards it and each other is the most concerning. It is the same bit that I was offended by back in 2010 when we looked at the legislation with the change to the FAA and FSP that we now have.

Back in 2010 there was a lot of noise about advisers, and there was a lot of contention around investment versus mortgage versus insurance, and as we well know, the bulk of the legislation in 2010 focused on investments.

Which to be fair after the 2007/2008 financial crash, investment was where the government’s focus was, because a lot of money was lost by investors.

However, what seems to be transpiring is a continuation of this debate in the form of AFA vs RFA, in a way that isn't constructive, nor in a way that is helpful, to engage the various players in the industry.

I had a situation in one forum where it was suggested by an AFA that your typical RFA would not be capable of reading the FAA, let alone understand its requirements. Which is laughable given many AFAs started in this industry in the same way most RFAs did.

As an insurance adviser, I 'sell' legal contracts, if we don’t understand those legal contracts we can get it very wrong. Add to that; most insurance contracts are more complicated than the FAA. So to suggest that because we are RFAs somehow, we are sub-human bottom feeders that cannot read the legislation, is highly offensive.

The second part as advisers of category two products, we weren't required to be AFAs, so why go through that additional pain and expense, rather we just got on with it. The ref said it's ok, so it's ok. It didn't mean our businesses were necessarily any less compliant than an AFA one, though we do know many haven't lifted the bar to the AFA level yet.

What also surprised me, and to some extent was good to see, are investment advisers who are specialists in their area who solely focus on it, who also expressed they don’t understand life insurance. These advisers added to the discussion positively with an approach to learning and understanding about what we do.

So it's not all bad, but I have had both the best and the worst attitudes shown in the last couple of weeks, particularly towards life insurance advisers.

Which for me was quite disappointing and also demonstrated that as RFAs, we need to be present in the conversation around the legislation changes and the direction our industry is going to go in the future.

At the same time we need to pull our collective heads out of our collective arses; and understand that wherever you happen to be in the financial services sector, it is a profession in a chosen specialty. Just because you’ve selected a discipline that another discipline doesn’t understand, doesn’t mean you’re a bottom feeder!

All of the insurance products that we have in our financial market are not only produced by providers; the government licenses them. They are deemed not only to be fit for purpose, but necessary for our population at large, to ensure their financial security, the growth of their financial wealth, and protection of their lives and the outcomes of their families.

Not to mention the other RFA disciplines covering the need for funding, finance, general insurance, as well as more obscure situations like foreign exchange and currency. Also various other specialist markets, that to be fair I don’t have a lot of knowledge of because they don’t fit, or don’t come near, the areas that I typically work.

So the message to those that are in our industry, who are looking at other specialties, maybe rather than throw stones in the glass house, pick the phone up. Have a chat with someone who's professional in another discipline, who is doing a damn good job in their area, and catch up for a coffee.

Understanding them will help you understand how you might be able to interact with them for the benefit of you and your clients, and maybe you might be able to help them in areas you specialise in too. Either way, a better understanding will help you be a better adviser wherever in the industry you sit.

I’m proud to be in life insurance, and we do a significantly valuable job for families. Yet we remain misunderstood and measured by a stick that is not necessarily that well aligned with the principles of life insurance and what we actually do.

Those that have been around tables in more recent times are starting to show understanding that the various disciplines are different in their approach, and there might be different approaches to licensing as a result, as too with the documentation to date talking about various streams. Let's see how this develops.

The industry at large needs to hear more from the individual practitioners, as the dealer groups and professional associations are the ones currently making the most noise on our behalf. RFAs are mostly silent in this discussion.

If you are an RFA and you intend to be a business owner that's more than just a salesperson into the future, you need to make your voice heard. Be it at the discussion meetings or through the submissions process, its time for RFA advisers to be heard.

So make some noise!

Tags: AFA Code Working Group Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill regulation RFA

« Changes for RFAs nothing to worry aboutNeeds analysis and your advice process »

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Comments from our readers

On 27 June 2018 at 11:36 am Brian W Brown said:
Great article Jon-Paul and thanks for going to the trouble of putting into print how many like myself feel.Brian W Brown Insurances Tauranga.

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