BT leads the way in a new era of financial advice

5 min read
  • New online adviser register, Adviser View, with client satisfaction ratings and visibility of advisers’ qualifications
  • New ‘Advice Commitment’ that explicitly states the standards a client should expect from their adviser
  • Raising the bar on minimum education and professional standards for all our advisers

BT Financial Group (BT) today announced a new era for the financial advice industry, launching three major initiatives that focus on improving the client experience, adviser professionalism and transparency.

According to chief executive officer Brad Cooper, the initiatives demonstrate BT is leading the way by providing consumers new ways of accessing information about financial advisers.

“Consumers are asking for a breakthrough in terms of putting control in their hands and removing barriers to the financial advice industry,” Mr Cooper said.

“Financial advice should be client-driven. We think that revealing more about the organisation, the organisation’s commitment to customers, and the advisers themselves is an incredibly important way we can be even more transparent and accountable.

“This sets a new benchmark for the industry and I believe we have the best people in the market to make this change happen. We have outstanding customer satisfaction ratings for our financial advisers now standing at 87 per cent and I am more than willing to use this as an opportunity for our clients to judge us,” Mr Cooper said.

A new online public adviser register, Adviser View, with client satisfaction ratings and comments
BT has launched a comprehensive online adviser register, Adviser View, giving all Australians the power to search, share and compare financial advisers in its Westpac, St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA networks.

Advisers’ education, qualifications, specialities and current license. All qualifications are verified by independent verification agency, First Advantage

The ability for clients to rate their advice experience based on four questions. Responses will be shown on the register as a one-to-five star rating against each question for each adviser

Functionality to search for advisers by name, postcode and speciality

Free-text section for clients to provide qualitative feedback about their adviser    

BT’s general manager of Advice Mark Spiers said: “Adviser View is an important and immediate step that lifts the visibility of our advisers and their qualifications. The five star client satisfaction rating system is a bold move that adds even greater transparency of our advice network.”

“Finding a financial adviser is ultimately about finding a professional who can help you bring your goals and dreams to life,” he said.

“It is a highly personal relationship. The power to search, share and compare financial advisers and feel comfortable with them before you have even met them, gets this relationship off to the best possible start,” Mr Spiers said.

Adviser View will link to the ASIC register once it is operational.

New minimum qualifications for all advisers
By the end of 2019 all advisers employed in the Westpac, St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA networks will have to hold a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Fellow Chartered Financial Planner Practitioners (FChFP) or Masters of Financial Planning (MoFP).

For those who do not already have this, they will be required to achieve a minimum qualification of Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning, or the equivalent, by the end of 2015.

Professional membership is now compulsory and these advisers are all now members with either the Financial Planning Association or the Association of Financial Advisers.

‘Advice Commitment’ to transparency and quality advice.
BT has also released a new ‘Advice Commitment’ which details the service and standards clients should expect from their advisers.

“We have always held our advisers accountable to our high service, compliance and professional standards, but we acknowledge clients want to see this commitment in writing,” Mr Spiers said.

“Our high education standards are the backbone to our strong service offering. They provide the capability behind the promises in our ‘Advice Commitment’,” he said.

Mirroring these initiatives with BT’s aligned advisers
Aligned advisers in the Securitor, BT Select and BT Licensee dealer groups (who are not directly employed by the Westpac Group) will also reflect the new standards in time:

  • Aligned advisers will be on Adviser View within weeks 
  • Aligned advisers will require the proposed minimum qualification (Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning, or the equivalent) by the end of 2016 
  • Aligned advisers will be required to hold either a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Fellow Charted Financial Practitioner (FChFP) or Masters of Financial Planning (MoFP) by 2019.