FOR ADVISERS

Welcome to the Advisers section of PIFA, a resource tailored especially for financial advisers who are interested in finding out what it takes to become an independent financial adviser.

Here you will gain access to information about why our members practice the Gold Standard of independent advice, some history and the beginning of PIFA, access to our online member directory , how to apply for membership and our news and events.

PIFA is regularly in the media and actively raises public awareness of the benefits of independent financial advice through many channels including social media, print, radio and television. Our members benefit considerably from the “Find an Adviser” service on our website – it’s a great source of new business that’s exclusively available to Associate Members.

Interested in becoming a member? Register your details below and you’ll be among the first to get access to this exciting new membership and eCourse programme.

THE GOLD STANDARD

Similar to the Heart Foundation’s “Tick” which guides Australians on healthier eating choices, the pIFA Gold Standard of Independence™ guides Australians on how to find financial advisers who practice without incentive and without conflicts. For the public, this symbol is a beacon for genuinely independent financial advice. For Practising Members, this symbol is evidence they have satisfied the most stringent standard of independence in the profession.

The three stars in the symbol represent the three criteria of the PIFA Gold Standard of Independence™ – no links to products manufacturers, no commissions, and no asset based fees. This is a Gold Standard for financial advice and the symbol represents trust and professionalism.

PIFA - Gold Standard

To qualify as an PIFA Practising Member, advisers must satisfy these three criteria:

  • 1. No ownership links or affiliations with product manufacturers
Impartiality is impossible where an adviser has links to a product manufacturer. Ownership links create an environment where the adviser resembles, at best, a well-intentioned salesperson.
  • 2. No commissions or incentive payments from product manufacturers
Commissions are payments made by product manufacturers to their distribution network. They create a conflict of interest between advisers and their clients.
  • 3. No asset-based fees
Asset fees, although authorised by the client, are calculated precisely the same way a commission is calculated. Asset fees are incentives that prevent an adviser from being impartial and therefore create a conflict of interest between adviser and client.

HOW TO BECOME A PIFA GOLD STANDARD OF INDEPENDENCE™ PRACTISING MEMBER

To become and remain a practising member of PIFA, advisers must go through an application process including provision of evidence of their independence, and the Association must be assured that their practice is aligned with its principles. All practicing members must also adhere to Section 923a of the Corporations Act 2001, and the following article and links may help explain a little more about what this entails:

Our membership brochure can be downloaded here. Page 3 sets out the criteria for our Gold Standard of Independence™ – satisfy these principals and you are well on your way to becoming truly independent. If you already adhere to these principles and would like to become a member of PIFA, please complete the application form on pages 5-8 in the attached and email to admin@pifa.org.au along with a current copy of your Financial Services Guide and we will then get in touch by phone to arrange a membership interview.

If you would like to become a member, please contact us. We will get in touch with you to discuss next steps.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Established in 2009 and formerly known as the ‘IFAAA’, PIFA was formed following the ASIC’s submission to government that conflicts of interest “distort the quality of advice” and should be banned. Consumer groups endorsed the view but many industry associations representing financial planners vehemently opposed the idea of banning commissions, even though it was demonstrably in the interests of the public. The Association’s founders recognised that there was an urgent need for a professional Association whose members’ interests were aligned with those of the public.

The Profession of Independent Financial Advisers exists to provide leadership to the financial advisory community and to the public at large on the provision of genuinely independent financial advice in this country.

As a leader, PIFA’s role is to set a standard for the financial advisory community in the interests of the public. Its vision is for a new era in which high quality; genuinely independent financial advice is accessible to all who seek it.

Similar to the Heart Foundation’s “Tick” which guides Australians on healthier eating choices, the PIFA Gold Standard of Independence™ guides Australians on how to find financial advisers who practice without incentive and without conflicts.

For the public this symbol is a beacon for genuinely independent financial advice. For Practising Members this symbol is evidence they have satisfied the most stringent standard of independence in the profession.

All members of PIFA meet the conditions of section 923A of the Corporations Act and as such are legally entitled to use the words “independent”, “unbiased”, and “impartial” to describe their services. They also uphold PIFA’S Gold Standard of IndependenceTM:

– You and your AFSL may not have ownership links or affiliations with product manufacturers, and

– You and your AFSL are not in receipt of commissions (unless they are rebated in full to the client) or incentive payments from product manufacturers, and

– You and your AFSL do not charge asset-based fees

For the 2018/19 financial year fees are $1,500 which are calculated on a pro-rata basis for members joining during the financial year.

The Association doesn’t offer nor exist to provide this service to its members. However the reality is it does receive receives a consistent stream of enquiries from the public all around the country who are looking for genuinely independent financial advisers. PIFA publishes on its website a full list of all members with links to their own websites and periodically we survey our members about the number of enquiries they receive as a result of their membership of PIFA. Member responses from those surveys vary from simply ‘positive’ to ‘extremely enthusiastic’; notable comments are:

  • “Even if membership fees were $20,000 a year, it would still be profitable because of the increased traffic we get on our website.”
  • “Apart from referrals we don’t do anything other marketing anymore.”
  • “People just Google ‘independent financial advice’, the first unsponsored search result is always ifaaa.com.au, and then from there they just contact us.”

In any event, our survey responses indicate the average seems to be about 6 unsolicited enquiries per month per member, depending on a number of factors including time of year and what’s happening in the media. For instance, enquiries spiked to unprecedented levels while the Royal Commission into Financial Services was underway and extensively reported on by the media.

The Association will continue surveying its members for feedback on unsolicited enquiry as a result of membership, as well as probe further into average conversion rates and fee revenues.

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