Financial planners the NEW PRIESTS for clients seeking guidance
March 31, 2015

The future of financial advice – the profession and the businesses that operate in it – will be shaped by forces far more powerful than mere legislation, according to the futurist and managing director of the Global Directions think-tank, Keith Suter.

Speaking at a superannuation round table, hosted by Conexus Financial, sponsored by Perpetual and featuring the Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, Suter (pictured) said the demographic profile of clients was already changing the role played by financial planners in those clients’ lives and in the community more broadly.

“What strikes me about financial planning is it’s a very intimate role,” Suter said.

“At a time when religion is declining, it’s increasingly [financial planners] that deal with the basic questions of life: Where did I come from? What am I doing now? Where do I go next?

“Well underpinning that is money, and you’ll find that people have very intimate conversations with their financial planner. They don’t go to priests any more, they go to financial planners. Financial planners are almost spiritual guides on top of everything else, so you’ve got to also look at how you reinvent the industry for these new types of demanding clients.”

And these clients will certainly be demanding, Suter said. He said the Baby Boomer generation “reinvented what it was to be a teenager, and they will reinvent what it was to be an older Australian”.

Sex and drugs and rock and roll

“As a teenager they were interested in sex, drugs and rock and roll; now they’re a little more concerned about superannuation,” he said.

“What this means therefore is that they will then, as pioneers, seek to reinvent what this will be. For a start they do not want to go into residential aged care. They will perhaps right at the end of their life [go into] hospice care, but not the earlier years. They put their parents into that aged care; they don’t want to go there.”

The Baby Boomer generation is very different from the one that went before it, Suter said. Baby Boomers’ parents “were much more accustomed to taking orders”.

“They worked in big bureaucracies or the armed forces, so we’ve got a new generation coming through and they’re going to be much more independently minded.

“The women are going to want to reinvent themselves as well, and now of course this is the first generation of women that are actually women in their own right and not somebody’s daughter or somebody’s wife, so they will then want new ideas.

Suter said one of the biggest challenges facing the profession and the Austrlaian community is “how you fuse together the issues of community care and getting older, and who’s going to give advice”.

“There’s a need almost for independent advocates for older people, to be knowledge navigators, to help people work their way through the complexity of retirement, of Centrelink payments, of taxation issues,” Suter said.

Emerging role

An emerging role would be “this notion of the aged care, the aged advocate who will take care of a person’s financial affairs”.

This could well be “an enlarged financial-planner-type of role, who needs to be across the whole thing, aged care and health issues and whatever, and have 100 per cent integrity”.

“There’s going to be new opportunities there,” he said.

By Simon Hoyle  |  February 23, 2015