Arguably that’s a little churlish. Disappointment was expressed that there was nothing in the initial Henry response on lifetime annuities. Minister Bowen: Well, Henry made a series of recommendations, one of which we’ve ruled out, which was a government-sponsored product. We don’t think that’s core business for what we would do well, and we think the private sector is much better at offering financial products than the Commonwealth. There was also a recommendation about the Government needing to review barriers to the private sector offering more attractive product. That’s something that’s still on the table, in terms of identifying with industry what those barriers are, and then working out what, if anything, the government needs to do to enable the private sector to make annuities more attractive. There’s a discussion to be had about long-dated bonds. But to be brutally honest, I saw the other reforms that we did announce as being priority number one, and there’s only a certain amount of things you can deal with at one time.
The conversation turned to the commission-free financial advice model proposed by the Government. Steve Tucker (group executive MLC and NAB Wealth): Increased transparency and trust in the system is good, we want more people to get advice. I think we were always hopeful that the industry would get there in its own right. Self-regulation is the best form of progress, but I believe we got as far as we could, and I think that the package that the Minister has put together is thoughtful. Implementation will be difficult, it always will be when you’re making changes of this nature. But dealing with the issues of the package, basing it around a timeframe that people can manage to, when the industry had already got there on some of the measures, I think is a good thing. We all want the financial planning industry to become a profession. It’s very close to being there, and these changes give us a firm platform now to go and get that last 10 per cent and get that recognition that they deserve. So we’re very pleased with the package. Simon Hoyle (editor, Professional Planner Magazine) : Minister, you said that one of the elements that was going to require further consultation was the issue of commissions in risk products, and whether they should be subject to the same bans. And we’ve heard arguments for, and we know the arguments against.