A question for Australia’s CPAs…

CPA Australia produced a new report last week – “Household Savings & Retirement: Where has all my super gone?”

Essentially the report puts a position that the superannuation system is busted because people aren’t adopting the appropriate behaviours towards their superannuation monies.

Like kids at the biscuit tin, people are spending their super inappropriately. Therefore, they are remaining dependent upon future Australians to fund their retired (and meagre) lifestyles when their superannuation balances money inevtiably runs out before they do.

The chief executive of CPA Australia Mr Alex Malley says that “…Australia’s retirement savings policy is not delivering on its policy intent”.

A question for you Mr Malley.

Whose fault is that?  

The superannuation system?

Or your members – Australia’s accountants?

The accountant is undoubtedly the most trusted financial professional for Australians.

Haven’t they been in the best position to properly advise Australians on the ‘appropriate’ behaviours to ensure they don’t overspend, they don’t undersave?

Aren’t they meant to be similar to the medical profession and advising on appropriate, sustainable, sensible and long healthy financial living?

Isn’t blaming the superannuation system for not managing the behaviours of clients like blaming the pharmaceutical industry for failing to manage the behaviours of patients?

In their quest to best serve their clients, did Australia’s accountants accredit themselves to best protect and advise on broad and expanding financial lives of their clients both for the public interest as well as best positioning their services and offerings?

I applaud the call for a review that better protects the financial interests of Australians so that they can have the financial certainty they seek.

Reading the report, I see little mention of how best can financial professionals manage the behaviours of their clients. Isn’t part of the problem is how we see the problem?

Blaming the real ills of our system on the lump sum nature of compulsory superannuation could be missing an important point. It seems that no one group of professionals has stood up to represent impartial, independent conflict-free financial advice, including Australia’s  accounting profession.

Now’s a pretty good time to also address that?

And we have been…

Thanks to Wallis, Campbell, Financial Services Reform, Ripoll, FoFA, and APES230, Australia is on a path forward, albeit slow and detoured by incumbent interests of financial product providers and ‘patch protectors’.  These reforms are all trying to build a better financial advice environment, but, like this well-written report, something is missing – and it’s foundational.

Financial advice is more about managing client’s behaviours than managing client’s money.

Unfortunately we don’t have a financial profession  in Australia among all the accountants, brokers, insurance agents, investment advisers, mortgage providers, and lawyers that are clearly recognised as the go-to, trusted profession that skilfully manages the technical and ‘behavioural’ aspects of good financial management and advice.

No yet anyway…

What do you reckon?


About Jim Stackpool

For nearly 30 years Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted to advisory firms across Australia. As founder of Certainty Advice Group, he leads a like-minded team of professional advisory firms seeking to create greater certainty for their clients. As an author, blogger, columnist, and keynote speaker, Jim is regularly called upon for his professional insights into the advice industry. His latest book Seeking Certainty is available now.

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