The one common thread coming out of the banking Royal Commission day by day is transparency, or more so the lack thereof. The evidence being given is consistently showing financial planning within the big banks and financial institutions as poor and self- interested. The pursuit to squeeze every dollar out of the finance and financial advice industries eventually had to come at a cost, that cost appears to have been born by the customer. In a perfect world everything would be black and white and everyone would know where they stood.
The good old days where the baddies wore black and the goodies wore white are no more. Unfortunately, in professional services industries (financial in this case) there are too many shades of grey suits to keep a track of and sadly transparency is becoming harder to find. Australia has a large volume of professional service small businesses that are very successful because they all do the same thing correctly. What could this secret be, I hear you ask? Very simply, they put the customer first, above all else, and there is no compromise. Upon doing this they quietly go about building a trusted brand and their businesses thrive on this simple principle through word of mouth referrals.
The desire to protect your assets and receive financial advice from someone experienced that you can trust, who has nothing to hide or is not trying to intentionally deceive you, should not be hard to find. Every consumer should do their own research when choosing a professional service provider. Equally, if a trusted friend or family member refers you to a professional who they have had successful direct dealings with, that should send a very powerful message.
The amount of information that has already come out of the Royal Commission detailing poor advice and clear conflict of interests going unchecked signals to me that they have only just scratched the surface. There will no doubt be many more revelations to come, which will no doubt have a negative impact on the financial services industry, but will eventually be the catalyst for change to clear the air and bring transparency back. It will not only be the consumer that will be the winner in the end, the industry itself will be better for it. I shudder to think what a Royal Commission into the real estate and property industry would ever look like? While that may either be a very long way off or never happen, lets first make sure we see this one through to the end!
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