If you see something, say something

Most of us have heard this phrase before. It has generally been used in the US regarding recognising behaviours and indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime.

So why would I use this phrase then? Surely I’m not likening financial planners to terrorists?

Not at all!

The majority of advisers I know, and work with, are doing the best they can for their clients, in trying and often confusing circumstances. They need a little guidance and coaching along the way, but generally, they know their clients and they want good outcomes.

The reason this phrase has come to mind recently is that from 1 October 2021, the new breach reporting obligations commence.

From my point of view, one of the biggest components of the new obligations is that there is now an obligation for licensees to lodge reports in relation to other licensees.

Under this new obligation, a licensee must lodge a breach report when they first reasonably know that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a reportable situation has arisen about an individual who provides personal advice to retail clients about relevant financial products (this excludes basic banking products, general insurance products, consumer credit insurance or a combination of any of these products) and is operating under another AFSL.

Some articles that I have read are calling this the “Dobbing Obligation”.

But is it really?

We cry out to be recognised as a profession, yet there has been an inherent reluctance in the industry to report advisers who engage in misconduct or poor advice outcomes for clients.

And the reason, for most Licensees, is that they have been concerned about lawsuits and claims of defamation.

So in other words, Licensees have acted in a Ïf you see something, don’t say something, just let the problem go”.

The new obligation provides Licensees with protections when they are sharing information for reference checking protocols. This, in my opinion, is a good step, as long as the information is based in fact and evidence. It cannot be based on opinion.

But it also opens it up to the greater adviser community.

If we are truly passionate about this industry, and about providing positive outcomes to our clients, don’t we also want to ensure that the minority, who may be doing the wrong thing, are not practising or moving between licensees.

Maybe it is time that when you come across some form of poor advice from another adviser that you ask the question of your licensee, or a compliance consultant. Maybe it is time that Ïf you see something, say something”.