Ben Marshan (00:00):
We hear it from our members, saying, “Clients just tell us they just want us to do it. They want us to provide the advice to them, and then just implement it. They don’t really want to read those documents and engage with them,” but it’s because the document is not something that consumers naturally want to engage with.
Fraser Jack (00:16):
Hello, and welcome to Goals Based Advice Podcast, where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I’m your host, Fraser Jack. I want to thank you so much for tuning in today.
Fraser Jack (00:31):
I’d also like to thank our supporting partner, Advice Intelligence, for powering this podcast. You can get the show notes from this episode online at adviceintelligence.com/resources.
Fraser Jack (00:45):
If you’re enjoying this show, then please help me spread the word about the good things podcast episodes can provide. I would also love if could leave me a review on your podcast platform of choice.
Fraser Jack (00:55):
In this episode, I chat about the future of the SOA with Jason Andriessen, the CEO of CoreData, and Ben Marshan, Head of Policy and Standards at the Financial Planning Association of Australia. We discuss just how the SOA can move to a digital format, and all of the mindset shifts needed to get your head around the concept. We cover all aspects of how and why this part of our advice process should, can, and will, evolve in 2020 and beyond. So if you want to keep up with the changes coming, then this episode is for you. Hitting play now on my chat with Jason and Ben.
Fraser Jack (01:36):
Welcome to the show Ben and Jason. Great to be here.
Ben Marshan (01:40):
Thank you, Fraser.
Fraser Jack (01:42):
Thank you. So it’s a pretty exciting time. At the time of this recording, the FPA have just released a certain new feature on the website-
Ben Marshan (01:52):
Fraser Jack (01:52):
... we’re calling the interactive guide to the Future of the Statement of Advice.
Ben Marshan (01:57):
Yes. The Future of the Statement of Advice interactive guide was released today to members. So today is the 18th of December. So if you can go to the FPA website, you can see that there. Despite that name though, I like to call it FOSOA.
Fraser Jack (02:11):
FOSOA, great name. The Future of the Statement of Advice.
Ben Marshan (02:14):
Yes, we’ll just drop the T, and go-
Fraser Jack (02:17):
Ben Marshan (02:17):
... with that acronym, FOSOA.
Fraser Jack (02:19):
Ben Marshan (02:19):
Yeah. So it’s a project that we’ve been working on for the last 12 months also, but we’ve focused on how to help members create advice processes that are more efficient, more engaging, cheaper to provide advice.
Ben Marshan (02:34):
We’ve done two fintech reports over the last two years, the first being mapping fintech to the financial advice process, and the second one was helping our members actually purchase and make good decisions around buying fintech. I was trying to think of what to do for this year’s report and I couldn’t actually think of the next step in that journey. You identify the fintech you want, you buy it and integrate it into your business, but I wanted to do something, and it’s been a great frustration of mine for the last couple of years that we’re still relying on technology that was invested in 100 BC to deliver advice to our clients. We print hundreds of pages of paper and think that the client’s going to enjoy interacting and engaging with that, and I just don’t understand why we still do that in 2019 when everything else we do in our lives is on computers, is on tablets, is on mobile phones in our pockets.
Ben Marshan (03:32):
So my challenge to myself, and what I wanted to do for FPA members, was say we can actually start to deliver advice better than what we have been, in a way that consumers want to better engage with. So I got some really smart people, Fraser and Jason, to help me write an interactive guide to why we can actually produce advice in a much better way.
Fraser Jack (03:54):
I notice it is an interactive guide, not a white paper. Is that obviously quite deliberate?
Ben Marshan (03:58):
The whole idea of this project is to break paper, and producing a white appear just didn’t seem like the right way to break paper, so we came up with an interactive guide as the acronym we would use for it.
Fraser Jack (04:12):
Does that mean we can start doing Statements of Advice as an interactive guide instead?
Ben Marshan (04:16):
Well, once members start to engage with this interactive guide, absolutely. That’s the point of this. While the word, Statement of Advice, needs to be there somewhere, because that’s what the Corporation Act says, nothing else in the Corporation Act requires us to actually produce paper, and so, yes, we could have Fraser Jack’s interactive Statement of Advice, or Fraser Jack’s Statement of Advice and interactive guide.
Fraser Jack (04:47):
Fantastic. You mentioned that the time of this recording is at the end of the 2019, but this is really around 2020 and beyond and what’s happening from hereon, and we’re sort of drawing a line in the sand, new decade.
Ben Marshan (04:59):
Yeah. Today is virtually the last business day of the year so there’s not going to be a lot of digital advice provided in 2019. I know our members do take the shutdown period seriously, and they go away and they think about their businesses, and they think about the way they provide advice, and they think about the challenges that are going to be there for the next year. What we wanted to do was give them something positive and something engaging and exciting to think about over the Christmas period.
Fraser Jack (05:28):
I think you’ve done that.
Ben Marshan (05:29):
Thank you. And think about how they can start to use next year... and it’s going to take time, it’s going to be a process. You can’t just click your fingers and have an interactive SOA for your clients, but you’ve got to start that journey and start thinking about that, and that’s really what we want members to start thinking about over the Christmas break.
Fraser Jack (05:47):
Yeah, fantastic. So I notice that this wasn’t just something that was just produced in a short space of time, there was a whole working group put together to discuss these issues and what could be done in the Statement of Advice. Do you want to talk about the working group?
Ben Marshan (05:59):
Yeah. The first thing I wanted to do was see if we could actually get [ASIC 00:06:04] to... sorry. The pushback that we have been receiving from our members around producing advice digitally is that, “My licensee says I can’t do it.” So what we wanted to create were proof points to demonstrate to our members that, no, you can actually challenge that assumption by your licensee to say you can’t do it.
Ben Marshan (06:23):
So we invited ASIC into the room and said, “Is there anything within the Corporations Act or your regulatory guidance that says we can’t produce advice digitally?” They pointed to the RG 90 sample SOA and said, “Well, no. Actually, in our guidance that we’ve put there, we say you can produce advice digitally. You can use pictures, you can use audio, you can use video, you can use infographics. So the regulator says it’s all right.”
Ben Marshan (06:45):
So we then thought, okay, we’ll get some lawyers together, we’ll get some compliance experts together, we’ll get members, we’ll get technology fintechs, we will get content producers, and we’ll say, “What is stopping us from producing advice digitally?” So we’ve basically got all of those people together, and representatives from them, representatives of consumers, researchers, to say, “ASIC says this is all right, what’s stopping us from doing it?” The conclusion that came back was, effectively, nothing, nothing is stopping us doing this.
Fraser Jack (07:17):
Now just on RG 90, there was a great line in RG 90 that was missed by a lot of people, but it was really the introduction of some behavioral research and some behavioral science around how people learn and behave and, Jason, this is really one of the areas that you’ve done a lot of work on.
Jason Andriessen (07:31):
What was the line in RG 90? [crosstalk 00:07:35]
Fraser Jack (07:35):
It was specific to the text of the words used, but it really just said that in the behavioral research was used to... so that consumers would better understand the information.
Jason Andriessen (07:46):
That’s absolutely right, and that’s kind of the purpose of Part 7 of the Corporations Act, that consumers have time to consider the advice, and that they understand it before they implement it. If that’s genuinely the objective, and I’m sure it is, then the traditional way of financial planning, of taking a data collection needs analysis and disappearing out of the client’s life for a week or two or three or four and then coming back with an SOA financial plan on a piece of paper, 30 to 90 pages long, it’s not going to actually achieve its objective, is it?
Fraser Jack (08:22):
But that’s the way we always do it, Jason. It’s the way it’s always been done.
Jason Andriessen (08:26):
And what better reason to do it a different way than that’s the way it’s always been done. Because it doesn’t reflect the reality of how adults actually think and learn and understand. Adults like to be involved in decision-making processes. They like to test ideas, they like to discount ideas, they like to question. I see this digital SOA as just another extension of an interactive advice experience actually. It’s beyond the SOA, but the SOA... and we’ll come back to the consumer testing because we did consumer test it... that’s what actually was most highly valued, the ability to ask questions in an un-embarrassing way, to build confidence around decisions.
Fraser Jack (09:15):
And that’s a really big thing. So that word, decision, if I think of what the purpose of the SOA is, and it’s pretty clearly set out in RG 90, to communicate important and relevant information so that the consumer, or whoever, your client, can make an informed decision, and it’s that decision part that’s really key, decision to act on the advice. That’s the purpose of the SOA, provide the information to make the decision, and I think, as you’ve said, if they’re not coming along the journey and understanding all the little things along the pathway, how can they make that informed decision from a place of complete understanding of the process if we do it, like you said, in the backroom somewhere?
Jason Andriessen (09:55):
Yeah. And the content that is produced in an SOA needs to be flipped, right? So the SOA should not be-
Fraser Jack (10:01):
Flip the script. I like it.
Jason Andriessen (10:03):
The SOA should not be focused on the content, it should be focused on the problem that the client is seeking to solve for. So adults are problem centered, not content centered. So if they can see and test how the answers relate to their problem, that’s a very different thing than being “educated,” because that’s not what... adults don’t want to be educated, most of them.
Fraser Jack (10:25):
They don’t want to be schooled?
Jason Andriessen (10:27):
They don’t want to be schooled, no. We should get rid of our education centers, leave those to the universities, and just focus on the client’s problems.
Fraser Jack (10:36):
Yeah, it’s amazing, isn’t it? I completely agree with that. My own personal point of view, you want to come along with the journey, you want it to be your decision. All the way along, if I’m the client, I want it to be my process, my decision. It’s all about my goals, my objectives, and being able to make those decisions along the way. Show me the strategies that help me and let me make the decision whether I want those or not and then-
Jason Andriessen (11:01):
Yeah. I come to an advisor, a financial planner, with jobs to be done inside my head. I’ve got a to-do list that I need to tick off, and let’s have a conversation that supports my to-do list, as opposed to what you want to talk about.
Ben Marshan (11:19):
Given I have the unfortunate, sometimes, privilege of looking at a lot of bad advice in my role here, part of the problem is that the financial information that sits in the SOA is often reflective of the client. It’s how much they’ve got in their bank account, how much they’ve got in their superannuation, but the goals don’t reflect the client, they are designed to justify the products that are recommended, not what the client... to your point, Jason, not what the client’s to-do list is when they come in to see you, and what they actually want to achieve through their life, their financial position.
Ben Marshan (11:52):
So the really good SOAs you see, the clients goals are in their own words, and then there is an engaging journey that the advice takes the client on to help them understand those goals, understand the strategies that are needed to achieve them, understand the products that will help them achieve those strategies, and how to implement it all and hold themselves accountable to it.
Fraser Jack (12:15):
There’s a lot of mind shifts that have to be made here, like mindset shifts that have to be made in the planners’ heads, in the compliance departments’ heads, to be able to start introducing digital SOAs, or digital advice. To me, one of those is around the value in the SOA, and we’ve sort of had words about this, and I spoke to a consumer yesterday about this very topic, who said they don’t value their SOA. They value the conversations, they value the interaction they have with their planner, they value the results, the outcomes, the relationship, the conversations, all these things, but they don’t value the document itself. Let’s face it, in most cases it is a document.
Fraser Jack (12:54):
The comments that I heard back from that client, or consumer, it wasn’t a client of mine but it was a consumer, who is a client of financial advice, they’re saying, “Yeah, the document is just clearly just a compliance piece, that butt covering exercise,” that they’ll never read, unless something goes wrong and they’ll pull it out and have a look at it. They understood the advice, they understood everything, but the document was really not valued.
Fraser Jack (13:22):
I think the mistake that we have made for a long time is that, as planners, we actually put a value on that document because we’ve probably paid a [inaudible 00:13:30] planner to produce it and so-
Jason Andriessen (13:31):
Fraser Jack (13:32):
... it’s worth a commercial value to us but not to the client.
Ben Marshan (13:34):
And you hear it a lot that... we hear it from our members, saying, “Clients just tell us they just want us to do it. They want us to provide the advice to them and then just implement it. They don’t really want to read those documents and engage with them,” but it’s because the document is not something that consumers naturally want to engage with.
Jason Andriessen (13:55):
Yeah. So we tested that with the RG 90 paper-based ASIC example, and that was the feedback from the focus group that we did as part of this project, that although they saw... and they did actually think it was logically structured and clear and transparent, they’re the things they liked about it. There were actually two camps in the focus group, some that said, “I wouldn’t read it,” and others said, “I would read it, and I’d read it four times.” A few people said, “I’d read it several times because it is clearly a backside covering document and I need to make sure there’s nothing in there that I’ve missed.”
Fraser Jack (14:35):
So they mistrusted it.
Jason Andriessen (14:36):
They absolutely did, and it was a major... That’s what has changed. Just quickly to talk about this. That’s what’s changed in the last two years. We’re seeing it time and time again in the community. When it comes to financial services, as an outcome of the Royal Commission, over the last couple of years, a lack of transparency was previously perceived as annoying but now it’s perceived as mischievous and evil, which is interesting. We see it in advice, we see it in super funds. If a super fund is late with its member statements, it used to be annoying. Now they’re saying, “What are they trying to hide? There’s something they’re trying to hide.”
Jason Andriessen (15:17):
The information asymmetry when it comes to advice has never been felt more acutely than it is right now. The advisor knows more than them, and how can they reduce that differential around the advisor knowing more, and when you can’t ask intelligent questions, if you can’t be involved in the advice process, interactive in the advice process, how do you empower yourself? You read the same document four times. It’s completely ineffective and it doesn’t do it, but what other lever can you pull, right? There’s no other.
Fraser Jack (15:46):
I always see the reason, like you said, the reason people would read the Statement of Advice from cover to cover four times is because they don’t trust, they don’t believe. So there’s two parts to this process. If you’re coming along on the journey with the client and they understand everything, so understanding being that the [inaudible 00:16:06], as they understand everything, they’re less likely to want to go through that four times.
Jason Andriessen (16:13):
They wouldn’t, they absolutely wouldn’t.
Fraser Jack (16:16):
To me, the two reasons people would want a paper copy of an SOA is, one is they don’t understand it, so they want a copy to take away and put it in the drawer or read it or bring it out later if something goes wrong, or the fact that we taught them that they get a paper document.
Jason Andriessen (16:31):
That’s absolutely right.
Fraser Jack (16:32):
Do you know what I mean? We actually taught the client that. If they never got one from the start, they would never know.
Jason Andriessen (16:39):
I think that’s right. I think we started this. We started selling financial planners. Financial planners produced a financial plan, but the financial plan is not the document sitting in the top drawer and it should never have been. It was the increased understanding of the client, the clarity on the gap between what they want to achieve... the clarity on what they want to achieve, what they can achieve, what they can’t achieve, trade-offs there, and the clarity on the gap and how it’s going to be closed. That is achieved through several conversations and an advice experience, and that’s where the value lies, not in the output.
Ben Marshan (17:20):
In saying that, we get a lot of pushback from members in particular about other professions don’t need to produce these Statements of Advice. I actually think that’s the wrong way to look at it. How often do you go to your doctor, and while they fill the prescription out and you go to the chemist and you get that, you’ve got no idea what antibiotic they’ve given you or what medication they’ve given you, or why they’ve given it to you, or what’s actually wrong with you, other than, “I don’t feel well.” You go to an accountant and they’ll lodge your tax return for you and you’ve got no idea what they’ve done, how it’s operated. You go to an engineer and you’ve got absolutely no way of understanding what on Earth the engineer has done, you just trust them to have done it.
Ben Marshan (17:58):
One of the advantages, I think, for a financial planner is, we are actually required to produce something for the client that they can take away, understand and make decisions about, and we’ve just been doing a really bad job in producing something that for the majority of the population that actually engage and interact with. You, Fraser, had some interesting information that you produced in a report.
Fraser Jack (18:25):
I really agree with that scenario. It is an amazing opportunity to provide advice and a Statement of Advice. Now I do not mean a document, right?
Ben Marshan (18:35):
Fraser Jack (18:35):
So I’m saying statement, not document of advice. As you said before, to your point, Jason, regarding the document, we created this thing back when financial services reform hit the Corporations Act in the early part of this century, 2002, ‘01, ‘02, ‘03, sort of that timeframe, when we took the best technology we had available at the time, along with a long legal document that was the Corporations Act that was thousands of pages long, and we created... we got the lawyers involved and they helped us create this document which was going to be the Statement of Advice.
Fraser Jack (19:10):
We went straight to document because it was the best technology we had at the time. Microsoft Word on Windows 98 was fantastic. We could edit these documents and you didn’t have to type them up. It was amazing. I’m showing my age here! We created these documents and since then technology has been like the compound interest curve, getting better and better and better every year, and we’ve just been doing slightly better improvements of a paper document.
Jason Andriessen (19:36):
And consumer expectations are going sky high as well because they’re consuming services in other ways, in other industries, completely differently.
Fraser Jack (19:43):
Jason Andriessen (19:44):
They’ve evolved, right?
Fraser Jack (19:44):
People are now on their phones, they’re on Facebook, they’re on social media, they’re on YouTube. They’re consuming content on podcasts even. They’re consuming content or information or statements. We can all make a statement. We could make a statement on this podcast right now and say something. People can listen to it and hear it and we’ve got to stand by it, I guess, but you know what I mean? That’s still a statement. It doesn’t have to be a paper document.
Fraser Jack (20:06):
As to your point earlier, Ben, the ASIC and the Corporations Act, and the RG, the regulatory guides, don’t actually say it has to be a paper document, but we have this default in our heads, this learnt behavior which we’ve taught ourselves, that it is a document.
Jason Andriessen (20:22):
Yeah. And we’ve taught consumers to expect it as well. When we did the consumer testing, there were a number of people that said, yes, they absolutely, clearly preferred the digital SOA, primarily because it made it easier for them to consume information and deep dive in, as required, and we had some great examples, the ability to ask questions and make comments and that sort of thing. But a lot of them said that they would still probably print it out. Kind of finished the focus group and thought, “Did we get to where we wanted to?” I think that is just a learned behavior that people will get over very quickly.
Jason Andriessen (21:04):
I think there are two things there. I think there’s the expectations of what usually happens. There’s also a feeling of, “I want to make sure I can have evidence of the final version. No one can hoodwink me and recast history.” Obviously we can overcome that with document storage and version control, so that’s no issue. I think it’s just a matter of, if people want to print it out, fine, but I think they’ll get sick of that pretty quickly.
Fraser Jack (21:30):
Yeah. Again, to my point around printing it out, is it because they don’t understand the information?
Jason Andriessen (21:36):
Yeah. It’s another way to empower themselves, right? They’re looking for levers to empower themselves to reduce the information, the power differential between their advisor and themselves.
Ben Marshan (21:46):
It’s funny. My wife watches a lot of reality TV, and I love my wife and sit next to her on the couch while she’s watching.
Jason Andriessen (21:54):
You watch it too, Ben. This is what you’re telling us, you watch a lot of reality television.
Fraser Jack (21:58):
Talk about throwing your wife under the bus again!
Ben Marshan (21:59):
Well, I love Survivor but-
Fraser Jack (22:02):
What do you think of The Bachelor?
Ben Marshan (22:04):
I can do without The Bachelor and Masterchef. But what always gets me is, there’s a lot of ads for financial products on those. There’s also superannuation ads, there’s also banking ads. There’s lots of mortgage ads and things like that. Sometimes when I am paying attention to the ads, I will pull out my mobile phone and I’ll have a look at my bank account, or I’ll logon to my super and go, “I haven’t looked at my super.” I have never once gone to my filing cabinet, pulled out my financial plan-
Jason Andriessen (22:33):
That’s interesting as well, right?
Ben Marshan (22:33):
... that my financial planner has done and gone, “I wonder how I’m tracking against my financial plan?” If I’m sitting there and my Statement of Advice, which is live and engaging, and is potentially pulling in my financial position on a regular basis, and showing me how I’m tracking to my financial plan that’s sitting in my pocket or sitting on my tablet, or sitting on my laptop, which are usually around me while my wife is watching The Bachelor or Masterchef, or whatever she’s watching, I am likely to go to my financial plan on a regular basis and actually go, “How am I going? How am in tracking? Am I creating the behaviors that are going to tick off my to-do list over time?”
Fraser Jack (23:11):
These are just standard new behaviors, right? Because we all used to have a book of maps in our car, and we all used to look up the [inaudible 00:23:19] and understand-
Ben Marshan (23:19):
Fraser Jack (23:20):
... where the... the old map. We’ve had hundreds of years of maps, looking at a paper map, and then all of a sudden now, in the short space of a few years, we all just use GPS.
Jason Andriessen (23:34):
It changed really quickly, right?
Fraser Jack (23:35):
Jason Andriessen (23:36):
There’s no crease in a GPS. No crease where the pages come together.
Ben Marshan (23:39):
Or even that. My car’s not that old but I don’t trust my car’s GPS maps anymore because they’re not updated regularly enough compared to what’s on my phone, which is a live map.
Fraser Jack (23:50):
Yeah. Same thing you said before, bank statements. You don’t go to your bank draw and pull out your bank statement and work out how much you’ve spent since then, you just go online and-
Ben Marshan (23:59):
No, but Jason-
Fraser Jack (24:00):
Ben Marshan (24:00):
Jason made the point earlier about that’s a learned behavior, right?
Jason Andriessen (24:04):
Ben Marshan (24:05):
My grandparents used to take their banking book into the bank and unless the number was written in that book... even if they weren’t making deposits, even if they weren’t making withdrawals, to see how much interest and what was there, they would go to the bank and ask them to update their book because that was their source of truth and their learned behavior.
Jason Andriessen (24:25):
Yeah. People always, when you talk about digital, they... you hear it less these days actually... they say, “That’s for young people.” It’s all very well for us sitting around this table, Gen Xers, but what about these older generations, are they willing to do this? They absolutely are, because use of digital is more correlated with education actually than age. So that’s why you’re seeing all of these intelligent... my son, Charlie’s grandfather is a really early adopter when it comes to technology. I think that we’re not respecting the clients when we assume that they don’t want digital.
Ben Marshan (25:11):
That’s a good point. My dad is the most technology illiterate person in the world and he shocked me the other day. So he wouldn’t know how to turn on a computer. He’s got a secretary to do all his typing and managing everything. But he shocked me the other day, that he pulled out my mom’s phone and checked his email. I had no idea that he could actually open a mobile phone because he’s never had one, but there he was opening his mobile phone and using it. So even my dad, who would say is-
Fraser Jack (25:43):
Who you’ve written off!
Ben Marshan (25:44):
Who I have written off, regularly!
Fraser Jack (25:47):
You’re managing to abuse all members of your family in this podcast!
Jason Andriessen (25:50):
Ben Marshan (25:52):
It’s coming up to Christmas, you’ve got to prepare for these things. To that point, even somebody who doesn’t engage with technology regularly can now open his mother’s phone and check his email. So he can definitely open a financial plan on his phone.
Fraser Jack (26:11):
I can just visualize people right now screaming at us going, “My compliance team will never allow this. It’s not going to happen because they’re stuck in their ways and they can’t check it off on a checklist, or they can’t read it or scan it,” or whatever it might be. What can we say to that point?
Jason Andriessen (26:37):
I was on a plane yesterday and the guy next to me was on the phone and said, “The compliance have stopped my sale again.” I wondered what he did for a living but, anyway, I thought that was very humorous. It looks like that.
Jason Andriessen (26:52):
The reality is, this does require an intentional decision to do something different, and the perception of different and new is risky, even if it’s not. It’s called the status quo bias: Where I am right now is safer than where I’m going to be. But it does require a full organizational decision around, “I’m willing to innovate in my clients’ interests here so that we are better able to serve our clients and leave our clients in a better financial position and have greater wellbeing,” because they understand their advice. So if the organization says, “Yes, we’re willing to do things differently in order to serve our clients better,” then the compliance team, I think, would get in line, get in step, and it would require a change of behavior, but it’s not insurmountable.
Jason Andriessen (27:48):
Just another point. I think it’s pretty clear that, in the current environment, over the last couple of years, two things. There’s no safety in doing things just because that’s industry standard practice. There’s so many things that came out of the Royal Commission that it was decided that it was outside of community expectations, but it was actually typical in financial services. So that’s the first thing.
Jason Andriessen (28:19):
The second thing, to acknowledge, to be frank with you, is that people are cautious around innovation, even when it’s in a client’s interest. As an advisor, I think we need to respect that, but it’s not a reason not to do it.
Ben Marshan (28:32):
Fraser Jack (28:32):
Ben Marshan (28:35):
The guide goes through some of these common reasons why my compliance team or the legal team says I can’t actually do this, and it challenges those and provides solutions. The main message I would give our members is, the FASEA Code of Ethics actually gives us the opportunity now to have these conversations and to actually challenge these assumptions from the compliance team because it talks about client understanding.
Jason Andriessen (29:05):
That’s a really good point, right?
Fraser Jack (29:06):
And the opposite of understanding is misunderstanding. So they don’t understand and there is a misunderstanding, and that is the basis for most of the compliance or risks and complaints anyway.
Jason Andriessen (29:17):
Ben Marshan (29:17):
Jason Andriessen (29:18):
Since FSR, so 15 years ago, 18 years ago, the structure of the Corporations Act, yes, the licensee still has obligations, but before that they had all the obligations really. Increasingly, with the rise of the consumer, the representative, the authorized representative, the advisor is taking on more and more responsibility legally and in respect of their ethical professional reputation. I think the power differential between the licensee compliance, the licensee and the advisor absolutely actually has to change, and the advisor has to be more challenging the other way.
Ben Marshan (29:58):
Fraser Jack (30:00):
Well, compliance is all about risk. Sorry, Ben. Compliance is all about risk minimization, you’re looking at what the risks are. To me, the risk of doing the same thing that we’ve always done, even though we know it’s broken and it doesn’t work, is a massive risk.
Jason Andriessen (30:12):
Fraser Jack (30:13):
Ethically, like you said before, with the Royal Commission, what the consumer expectations are, they would look at that and go, “Well, that’s unethical to continue to do that if it’s not working.”
Jason Andriessen (30:23):
Fraser Jack (30:24):
“And also charge us a lot of money to produce these things.”
Jason Andriessen (30:29):
Just to continue being controversial, ASIC, in the last week or two, released a report on super and about 50% of the advice was found to not be compliant with best... I think it was best interests, but generally not compliant advice. Your compliance managers are not that great at this, that you should just be asking permission for stuff, you should be challenging them.
Ben Marshan (30:52):
Absolutely. Just to finish off this FASEA Code of Ethics part of the conversation, while there aren’t code monitoring bodies in place from 1st January, the law says that individual financial planners are required to comply with the FASEA Code of Ethics. From that perspective, whatever the solution that the government comes up with around the 2.10 recommendation from the Royal Commission, which is a single disciplinary system, we’ll start to look at advice that is brought to its attention from 1st January 2020, which is 13 days away by my calculation. It’s not the licensee that is responsible for that advice anymore-
Jason Andriessen (31:33):
Ben Marshan (31:34):
... it’s the individual planner. So while licensees now have this obligation to ensure that you’re complying with the code for the next two years or so, it is still going to be on the individual financial planner’s head if something goes wrong. So planners should be pushing back on their compliance teams-
Jason Andriessen (31:52):
Ben Marshan (31:53):
... they should be pushing back on their lawyers and saying, “No, this SOA that you’re telling me I need to produce is actually not good enough for me to comply with this FASEA Code of Ethics.”
Fraser Jack (32:03):
And one of the big sleepers in the code to me is the understanding piece. As you said, from the 1st of January 2020, which from the time of this recording is in the future, but it will be in the past when you hear this, is the lookback. So in a few years’ time, you’ll look back to this day, the 1st of January 2020, and say, “Prove to me that your client understood that. Where was your proof? Where’s your evidence?” In a paper-based world, how can you tell that somebody’s read the SOA, how you can tell that they understand it? You can’t.
Fraser Jack (32:29):
Whereas in a digital world, you can get feedback loops and you can get understanding and these proof points of, “Oh, yeah, I took the quiz,” or, “I did the feedback,” or, “I had a response back about that saying, “Yes, I understood it and I can prove I understood it.”” Same way as adults do. Same way as we do now when we’re learning something or being schooled, but we’re asked to provide evidence that we understand.
Ben Marshan (32:55):
It’s actually really, really hard to do that when you limit yourself to providing the education, the advice, the proof points around why this is in the client’s best interest, on a flat, 2D printed piece of paper. When you can demonstrate different scenarios and you can demonstrate different outcomes by choosing this strategy or that strategy and how it better meets the client’s goals, and actually how it interacts with the goals and how it helps achieve the goals and where the trade-offs can happen-
Jason Andriessen (33:27):
Ben Marshan (33:27):
... is much better in something that’s digital and you can actually demonstrate the different scenarios in different ways. You stick it on a piece of appear and you lose all of it.
Jason Andriessen (33:38):
There’s no interaction at all, right? Absolutely.
Fraser Jack (33:42):
So there’s plenty of different sections in the guide that we’ve been through, that covers on things like compliance, and it covers off on the idea and the meaning behind it. It also talks a lot about some different ideas, so creating things that are using things that more visual. A lot of people are visual in nature than they are analytical, from reading long scripts of text. Did you want to talk about that, the different aspects and different communication ways as well?
Ben Marshan (34:11):
Well, I was going to say, you’re a bit better with the stats on this one, Fraser. So how-
Jason Andriessen (34:15):
Fraser, what do you know?
Ben Marshan (34:20):
What percentage of the population actually enjoys engaging with long paper-based documents that are full of numbers and-
Jason Andriessen (34:27):
Ben Marshan (34:28):
... figures and jargon?
Fraser Jack (34:29):
Very low. Usually the auditory digital people. So that varies depending on your demographic from around 8% to 12% of people. You’ve really got about 70% of people that visual tends to be their number one learning protokit, so they understand things... Essentially, what they had to do was read the sentence that you’ve written, create a visual image in their head which is based on their own experience, their financial literacy level, what’s happened to them in the past, the mood they’re in at the time, all those sorts of things, and they create a visual picture to remember the picture. Then later on, if they wanted to recall that information, they’ve got to find that picture and then they can work out with the information was. That’s a standard process that we go through.
Fraser Jack (35:11):
Some people are auditory, they like to hear things, and they love podcasts, obviously. Other people like an aesthetic, they want to feel or build or put together or understand how it works, how it feels to them. So people have different protokits and some people have more than one, they have two or three, but it’s really a scenario of how do people remember the information and engage with the information to be able to recall it later because, as we’ve said before, if they understand it, they’ll be able to remember it.
Fraser Jack (35:40):
It comes back to the picture that’s created is different for every single person. So how do we then, from words on a piece of paper, get people to understand the information? So the use of visual cues of images, of infographics, of videos, of all those sorts of things, play a massive part in how people are going to learn and remember this information.
Ben Marshan (35:59):
That’s the other thing that blows my mind, apart from we’re using technology created in 100 BC, is that we’re actually producing SOAs based on a way that only 8% of our clients are actually going to get a kick out of and actually want to have advice delivered in that manner. 92% of our clients want something different from us, and we kind of ignore that.
Jason Andriessen (36:24):
We ignore that because we’re not writing the SOA for the clients, we’re writing the SOA for the compliance auditor, and ultimately FOS or AFCA or ASIC. That’s the reality. We need to flip that because the purpose is to leave the client in an informed position and enable better decisions.
Fraser Jack (36:46):
Also, the longer and the more we write those SOAs for the compliance or for the complaints, is the client just turns around and says, “Yeah, but I don’t understand all that. I don’t understand all that 100 pages of information,” and it’s an impossible way to [crosstalk 00:36:58].
Jason Andriessen (36:58):
It creates a barrier, a barrier to trust, a barrier to implementing and a barrier to accessing, right?
Fraser Jack (37:04):
Jason Andriessen (37:06):
None of these things are good for consumers.
Ben Marshan (37:07):
Fraser Jack (37:09):
So I want to talk about this, and Jason we sort of mentioned it a bit before, this co-creation process, or system of bringing people along the journey. Do you want to elaborate a bit more on that?
Jason Andriessen (37:19):
Yeah. We went through this process, that we’ve been speaking of in this project here, around creating some digital SOAs around the RG 90 example. When that was done, we decided to test it with real consumers. So CoreData found eight typical Australians who had either had advice in the past, or currently have an advice relationship. We didn’t want to educate them on what financial advice was. We got them in a focus group that CoreData facilitated. We anchored the conversation on the RG 90 sample SOA, got their feedback on that, and then showed them some of these new ways of doing things.
Jason Andriessen (38:09):
What was interesting is that the consumers did actually like the RG 90 paper-based SOA, and they thought it was clear and transparent, until they saw the digital SOA. It’s the faster horses thing, right? You would never have invented the automobile if you asked consumers, they would have wanted you to give them better oats. So, yes, they liked the RG 90 SOA but they loved the digital SOA. The main reason for it was, first of all, it felt less daunting, to be honest, than a long document. So it was less overwhelming, first of all, in how it was presented. The ability to read a paragraph and then deep dive, as necessary, at their control, they liked that.
Jason Andriessen (39:02):
But what they really loved about it was the ability to make comments, highlight particular sentences, write questions of their advisor, because even though there was a conversation around should you really be frightened of asking a silly question, what might be perceived as a silly question, they’re saying, “No, you don’t,” but, actually, you do worry about that. It’s less intimidating in this environment and you can just say, “Hey, I don’t understand this. Can you explain a bit more around this?” So it allowed them to, in their own time, in their own study at home, work their way through it.
Jason Andriessen (39:41):
That co-creation, first of all... they wouldn’t say it like this, but it allowed them to address the jobs to be done in their heads rather than just reading a static SOA, so they could take it from the perspective of their jobs to be done. But more importantly, it reduced that information asymmetry, it empowered them through a journey. None of them said they would read that four times, right?
Ben Marshan (40:07):
Fraser Jack (40:09):
The videos you’re talking about, Ben, do you want to mention how they were produced?
Ben Marshan (40:14):
So as I said at the beginning, we spoke to regulators and lawyers and consumer representatives, and we talked to the fintechs and we said, “Look, we are now comfortable that everybody’s saying we can produce these SOAs digitally. So you are the technology providers, can you actually produce digital SOAs?” To Jason’s point, we said, “Can we use ASIC’s example because it’s something that the regulator says this is a good SOA? So can you produce a digital SOA off the RG 90 example?”
Ben Marshan (40:51):
So we set that challenge out to 50-something fintechs. At this point, six of them have returned us examples of their SOAs and what they’re able to produce in their technology today, and there’s a number more that are in the process of getting them back to us.
Jason Andriessen (41:10):
So who were those businesses, Ben? Who were those fintechs?
Ben Marshan (41:18):
In the report, in the next step section, we’ve got six examples. They’re from YTML. YTML’s was interesting because it’s a great digital one but they’ve actually got those question boxes built into the SOA. So you can highlight a word, or highlight a paragraph and then just start typing in a question to your financial planner-
Jason Andriessen (41:37):
The consumers love that, right?
Ben Marshan (41:38):
... and have a conversation with them. There’s examples from MoneySoft. Moneysoft really do a great job of pulling in the client’s information and data and making it live and engaging and updating over time. LivePreso, by SalesPreso have basically built a solution on the back of Xplan. So you’re using Xplan and you want to create these digital SOAs, you can use this LivePreso one. It’s totally interactive: Live data feeds, videos are built into it or it can read it to you. Clients can move around in the order they want. It’s got an amazing demonstration of how client has to tick off sections and demonstrate understanding of their SOA before they can actually proceed to implement it.
Ben Marshan (42:23):
Our financial mappers have done a great job in kind of straddling the current world to the future world, in that they have demonstrated how you can, basically on the left-hand side of the screen, have your standard text-based SOA. On the right-hand of the screen, it’s interactive and you’ve got videos, you’ve got interactive charts and graphs. Adviser Logic have created a sample which shows how you can use mobile technology, tablets, mobile phones, to engage with the SOA.
Ben Marshan (42:59):
And then shout out, I guess, to the sponsors of this SOA, Advice Intelligence, whose whole SOA creation and advice is based on creating digital SOAs, engaging ways to deliver advice and co-create advice with clients, have created a version that basically covers all those boxes as well.
Jason Andriessen (43:24):
Kind of an end-to-end co-creation.
Ben Marshan (43:25):
End-to-end co-creation process. So those are the six that we’ve got videos of the moment. Midwinter has told me they’re in the process of producing a video for me.
Jason Andriessen (43:34):
Ben Marshan (43:34):
Xplan is supporting obviously the LivePreso version. We’ve got a few other suppliers who are coming into the market or creating videos for us, and we’ll keep that up-to-date.
Ben Marshan (43:43):
So our members can read the report, listen to the report, watch videos of the report, interact with the report, or interactive guide, as I should say, and then there’s a next step section which actually shows these are the technology providers you can go to today and actually start to use their technology. Go back to your compliance team and say, “These are the fintechs that actually have this technology available for us today, and how can we start [crosstalk 00:44:12].
Fraser Jack (44:11):
And those videos are available for the planners to watch?
Ben Marshan (44:14):
Fraser Jack (44:15):
Fantastic. Well, gentleman. Thank you for having a chat today about the interactive SOA. Have we missed anything? Anything to add or are you... I think we covered most of the bases.
Ben Marshan (44:25):
I think just engage with it, watch the videos, listen to the audio, read the words if that’s what your floats your boat. But just think about where we are today and think about, if you had a blank piece of paper and were building this whole process with your clients from scratch in 2020, would you actually do it the way you’re doing it today, or how can you use the technology that’s there to make it more compliant, make it less risky, but, most importantly, make it significantly more engaging for your client. I think what our members will find is, it will be... to Jason’s point, you do need to invest some time and money into embedding this technology into your process but, ultimately, it will be cheaper to produce advice, it will be significantly more efficient to produce advice-
Fraser Jack (45:13):
We haven’t even got into the [crosstalk 00:45:14].
Ben Marshan (45:13):
It will be significantly more engaging for your client, as an advice process, and they’ll value that a lot more, and from that perspective, you’ll end up making a more profitable business for yourself. You can potentially charge more for the advice. You will be more profitable in providing the advice-
Jason Andriessen (45:31):
Ben Marshan (45:31):
... and that creates a much more sustainable financial planning profession to ensure that consumers actually do have access to affordable and engaging and valuable financial advice in Australia, and that is the most important thing out of all of this.
Jason Andriessen (45:48):
And it’s more likely to be implemented, and the behavior change is more likely to be taken on and executed on so they get the benefits, and that’s good for consumers, it’s good for financial planners, but it’s also good for the economy, to be frank.
Jason Andriessen (46:05):
So I’d like to finish by saying start having those challenging conversations with your compliance manager, your compliance team, because they will be challenging but actually, you have obligations, probably more obligations than them under the law, and you absolutely have the right to be serving your clients how you think you should be serving them.
Fraser Jack (46:24):
Yeah, fantastic. I guess when I think about the main points that I really want to make is, it’s all around mindset change. It’s all around saying, just because we did something in the past doesn’t mean we should do it in the future, especially when it hasn’t been working, and to continue to flog the dead horse and wonder why it’s not moving is just crazy behavior.
Fraser Jack (46:43):
So I think, for me, it’s to have that mindset shift, that it doesn’t need to be a document. It’s a Statement of Advice, not a document of advice. So it can actually be something that’s not a document, which is a real huge mindset shift for a lot of people to get their head around because we’ve spent the last 18 years thinking of it as a compliance document. So to have it as a digital statement, not a document, is a huge mindset shift.
Fraser Jack (47:11):
And the understanding, that piece of understanding, not just disclosing information. It’s all about the client’s understanding of the advice, not the disclosure, which is a bit of a mindset shift as well.
Fraser Jack (47:23):
I guess the final point is really just the technology is now at the point where things can be done.
Ben Marshan (47:30):
Fraser Jack (47:31):
The technology moved forward is so many other aspects and now the financial advice industry’s technology is catching up too, to what the possibilities could be. So I think 2020’s the year to start the new decade, to not just do what we did the last two decades.
Ben Marshan (47:46):
Absolutely. Just before we finish off, can I say, on behalf of the FPA and our members, a massive thank you to both Fraser and Jason for putting so much time and effort into creating this interactive guide and this report. We have had a chaotic year with Royal Commission reports and FESEA implementations and everything going on about that, and this guide wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the two of you. So I’d like to say thank you very much-
Jason Andriessen (48:12):
Oh, fantastic. Thanks, man. Cheers.
Fraser Jack (48:12):
Ben Marshan (48:14):
... on behalf of the FPA and our members for helping us out with that.
Fraser Jack (48:16):
Jason Andriessen (48:16):
Fraser Jack (48:19):
If you haven’t already, I’d love you to subscribe to the podcast on your podcast platform of choice. To continue the conversation, head over to our social media channels. We’ll catch you next time.
Disclaimer: This document is a transcription obtained through a third party. There is no claim to accuracy on the content provided in this document, and divergence from the audio file are to be expected. As a transcription, this is not a legal document in itself, and should not be considered binding to advice intelligence, but merely a convenience for reference.