Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 76

Confusion with financial planner brands

The branding of financial planners is causing confusion among consumers, according to a recent report released by Roy Morgan Research.

The depth of consumers’ confusion is highlighted by the sobering statistic that 14% of consumers visiting a Commonwealth Bank branded financial planner believe they are getting independent advice. Consumers’ confusion increases when they visit a financial planner operating under a different brand compared to that of the umbrella financial institution; 55% of consumers visiting the Commonwealth Bank owned Financial Wisdom perceived it to be independent.

Roy Morgan planners

Roy Morgan planners

However the problem of independence is not just one of flawed consumer perceptions. Customers of both independent and vertically integrated financial planners have suffered avoidable financial losses after taking poor conflicted advice.

Sean Graham, Principal of Assured Support and previously Head of Advice and Advocacy at Millennium3, said, “The tendency of vertical integration means that advisors have a list of 100 products or more on their approved product list, but when you drill down they maybe only really recommending eight aligned products.”

But there are many examples of business models where conflicts of interest are successfully managed, including newspapers and auditors. And as part of the financial advice giving process, consumers are given a financial services guide which explains where the advisor and the licensee sit as part of the group.

So should consumers be mollycoddled?

In reality, the marketing material in financial planning practices, which the consumer is far more likely to actually read, seldom highlights any ownership relationship or the implications of that relationship. And the ownership relationship can create a fundamental conflict of interest regardless of what remuneration practices are adopted.

Mr Graham said, “Even if you strip out conflicted remuneration by financial institution-owned financial planners, they are still going to be more likely to recommend their own products, because they want to keep their job. If you went into a Toyota showroom, what is the chance they are going to recommend a Ford?”


Les Goldmann has over 20 years experience as a Chartered Accountant. His other roles have included journalism, working as the policy and research manager for the Australian Shareholders Association and senior positions in the commercial and non profit sectors.


Leave a Comment:


Most viewed in recent weeks

House prices surge but falls are common and coming

We tend to forget that house prices often fall. Direct lending controls are more effective than rate rises because macroprudential limits affect the volume of money for housing leaving business rates untouched.

Survey responses on pension eligibility for wealthy homeowners

The survey drew a fantastic 2,000 responses with over 1,000 comments and polar opposite views on what is good policy. Do most people believe the home should be in the age pension asset test, and what do they say?

100 Aussies: five charts on who earns, pays and owns

Any policy decision needs to recognise who is affected by a change. It pays to check the data on who pays taxes, who owns assets and who earns the income to ensure an equitable and efficient outcome.

Three good comments from the pension asset test article

With articles on the pensions assets test read about 40,000 times, 3,500 survey responses and thousands of comments, there was a lot of great reader participation. A few comments added extra insights.

The sorry saga of housing affordability and ownership

It is hard to think of any area of widespread public concern where the same policies have been pursued for so long, in the face of such incontrovertible evidence that they have failed to achieve their objectives.

Two strong themes and companies that will benefit

There are reasons to believe inflation will stay under control, and although we may see a slowing in the global economy, two companies should benefit from the themes of 'Stable Compounders' and 'Structural Winners'.

Latest Updates


Stop treating the family home as a retirement sacred cow

The way home ownership relates to retirement income is rated a 'D', as in Distortion, Decumulation and Denial. For many, their home is their largest asset but it's least likely to be used for retirement income.


Hey boomer, first home buyers and all the fuss

What is APRA worried about? Most mortgagees can easily absorb increases in interest rates without posing a systemic threat to the banking system. Housing lending is a relatively risk-free activity for banks.


Residential Property Survey Q3 2021

Housing market sentiment has eased from record highs and confidence has ticked down as house price rises slow. Construction costs overtook lack of development sites as the biggest impediment for new housing.

Investment strategies

Personal finance is 80% personal and 20% finance

Understanding your own biases and behaviours is even more important than learning about markets. Overcome four major cognitive biases that may be sabotaging your investing and recognise them in others.

Where do stockmarket returns come from over time?

Cash flow statements differ from income statements and balance sheets, and every company must balance payments to investors versus investing into the business. Cash flows drive the value of the business.

Fixed interest

How to invest in the ‘reopening of Australia’ in bonds

As Sydney and Melbourne emerge from lockdown, there are some reopening trades in the Australian credit market which 'sophisticated' investors should consider as part of their fixed income portfolios.


10 trends reshaping the future of emerging markets

Demand for air travel, China’s growing middle-class population, Brazil’s digital payments take-up, Indian IPOs, and increased urbanisation are just some of the trends being seen in emerging economies.



© 2021 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third-party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use. Any general advice or ‘regulated financial advice’ under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.

Website Development by Master Publisher.