Why the banks integrated financial advice model is flawed

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Why the banks integrated financial advice model is flawed

It’s hard to believe the banks can keep a straight face and say they can abide by the duty for advisers to act absolutely in the best interests of a client.

Under the integrated financial advice model, there are layers of different fees including adviser fees, platform fees and investment management fees adding up to 2.5-3.5%

The typical breakdown of fees is usually as follows: an adviser charge of 0.8% to 1.1%, a platform fee of between 0.4% and 0.8%, and a managed fund fee of between 0.7% and 2.1%. These fees are not only opaque, but are sufficiently high to limit the ability of the client to quickly earn real rates of return.

Layers of fees placed into the business model used by the banks means there is not necessarily an incentive for the financial advice arm to make a profit, because the profits can be made in the upstream parts of the supply chain through the banks promoting their own products.

This business model, however, is flawed, and cannot survive in a world where people are demanding greater accountability for their investments, increased transparency in relation to fees and increased control over their investments.

It is noteworthy that the truly independent financial advisory firms in Australia that offer separately managed accounts  have done everything in their power to avoid using managed funds and keep fee’s competitive.

The banks have refused to admit their integrated approach to advice is fatally flawed. When the Australian Financial Review approached the Financial Services Council (FSC), a peak body that represents the ‘for-profit’ wealth managers, for a defence if the layered fee arrangements, a spokesman said no generalisations could be made.

There are fundamental flaws in the advice model, and it will be interesting to see what the upcoming royal commission into banking will do to change some of the contentious issues surround integrated financial advice.