It’s 1 July 2026. You are about to see your first new client for the new financial year. There will be many more. They will all be short meetings. They have to be. Your waiting room is full. There is a new client deluge: everyone wants real tax-deductible-strategy-based-financial planning advice.
Independent and objective advice on super, investment structures, the home and other property, direct shares, business, employment and estate planning are the mainstays of your practice. Products, ie risk insurances and managed funds, are there too. But they are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Financial planning is more than financial products.
Financial planning is the best profession. It’s all about helping people find long-term financial security and happiness, and every person wants long-term financial security and to be happy.
It’s not just you. It’s all of us. Certified Financial Planners are busier than ever, and are the most trusted of professionals.
But it was not always like this. In 2016 we were the object of Regulator and media disapproval. A 7.30 Report staple. No one liked us. Trust was low. We were an institutionalised industry, not a client focused profession. So what happened? What events in the ten years to 2026 made financial planning the best of all professions?
It’s complex. But if you read on you may find out.
Life Insurance Framework, Version E
Championed by Prime Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, the three-year transition from LIF Version D to LIF Version E is over.
Your new LIFE begins today. The PM has a keen interest in wealth creation for voters. She knows that’s where the votes are. Kelly is well supported by Peter Kell, our best ever Federal Treasurer. Frustrated by ASIC’s budget cuts, and bank-insurer policy directives, Peter left ASIC in 2018 to form his single-issue reformist Financial Planning Party. The clients loved him.
From there it was an easy gerrymander to become Treasurer in the New FPP Coalition Government.
By 1 July 2026 K&K are the team Hawke and Keating wanted to be. Their score is on the board. The most successful post-war political team in Australian history.
LIFE is the final act of K&K’s ten year play to drag Australia’s financial planning community into the twenty-first century, and make it a real profession.
K&K won. The pair overcame deeply entrenched institutional and regulatory interests to force financial planning to become a respected, educated, trained, ethical and altruistic profession.
Clients, or voters, as K&K prefer to call them, are delighted. Premiums are affordable and tax deductible. Financial planning advice is as it should be: clear, concise, effective, properly prioritized, appropriate and in the voters’ best interests.
K&K ban institutional influence and conflicted payments
It started unexpectedly. Who would have thought the bank-insurers’ 2016 offer to help fund ASIC would be the trigger for financial planning becoming a profession?
But looking back it’s obvious. Bank-insurer funding was never going to work. The bank-insurers obviously expected a return on their ASIC investment. They were not paying millions a year to ASIC for nothing.
It was a Trojan Horse. ASIC tried to be independent and objective; but eventually it caved in, did what it was told, and banned all risk insurance commissions.
Just what the bank-insurers wanted. A straight cash grab. The advisers’ lost commissions would be the bank-insurers’ extra profits. Hundreds of millions a year. The piper would be paid. The No Commissions Era would be a bank-insurer financial bonanza.
But it back-fired. The No Commissions Era was a bank-insurer financial disaster. Clients stopped buying insurance. There was no one to advise them through the complex process. New business disappeared, overnight. Under-insurance and bank-insurers’ profits were worse than ever. When CommInsure’s share price plummeted something had to be done. So the bank-insurers bet big on internet insurances. That back-fired too: 70% first-year lapse rates wiped out profits remained. They were in the red. Billions in technology cap-ex spends were wiped out overnight. CommInsure’s share prices plummeted further.
Finally, financial sanity prevailed. K&K made ASIC ditch the $121,000,000 a year bank-insurer subsidies in favor of a fully tax-payer funded model. ASIC finally saw low-income earners do not pay for risk insurance advice, and not many high-income earners do either.
The lesson was learned. Commission free risk insurances do not work.
Looking back it is no surprise ASIC’s 2016 bank-insurer funding model failed. It was a government guaranteed conflict of interest on the greatest scale: which dog will bite the hand that feeds? Who thought a bank funded ASIC could work?
Integrity in Regulatory funding enshrined
K&K made sure it could not happen again by penning ASIC’S Regulatory Guideline 451961 “Integrity in Regulatory Funding”. Conflicted payments and institutional bias in regulator decision making were banned forever.
ASIC’s standard-mandatory-level 15% commission regime
K&K then suggested ASIC trial a standard-mandatory-level 15% commission regime on all insurance products. It worked. The insurance industry was saved. All risk insurance products now carry this commission for the first ten years. No exceptions. If the insured changes advisers half the renewal premium is paid to the original adviser and half is paid to the new adviser.
ASIC’s anti-rebate rule
In 2026 it is a breach of the Corporations Act to rebate a commission directly or indirectly to a client. ASIC pinched the idea from Medicare. It works for doctors and it works for financial planners.
ASIC has banned advisers for rebating commissions. It’s a serious breach of ethics.
ASIC sets minimum prices on financial planning services
ASIC sets minimum prices for services provided by financial planners, in the same way the Health Insurance Commissioner sets minimum prices for services provided by doctors. It’s a professional way to do things. The wealth-health pricing protocols ensure quality financial planning advice is available to everyone, irrespective of their means.
K&K were off to a good start. Prices were fixed, and services were more available. They were making a difference. But bigger changes awaited.
The Royal Australian College of Financial Planners
K&K created the RACFP. This new professional body is a breath of fresh air. Born from a forced coupling of the FSC, the AFA and the FPA, the RACFP has a brand new constitution and a brand new look.
The RACFP stands up for financial planners and represents their interests. Every day in every way. The RACFP’s constitution bans conflicted industry donations and funding other than member subscriptions. The RACFP is a genuinely representative voice for real financial planners.
The RACFP’s annual conferences showcase compliance. Not selling institutions or selling products. The RACFP stands for quality advice in the client’s best interests and appropriate to the client.
Certified Financial Planners (CFP)
The RACFP administers the CFP program. “CFP” is an enshrined and protected term. The Corporations Act limits CFP to RACFP members.
In 2026 CFPs are elite financial professionals. They are the go-to-guys for major life events. They save financial lives. They have a higher social approval rating than CFA volunteers, and everyone wants to know them.
CFPs are bound by the highest ethical standards and external dispute resolution processes.
These standards include complete independence from institutional influence. In an echo of the old “independent” rule CFPs must be free of all institutional influence. They cannot accept commissions. The exception is, of course, the standard 15% mandatory level commissions applying to all risk insurance products prescribed by ASIC, the Commission Regulator.
Mandatory degree in financial planning, within ten years
Thanks to K&K from today every CFP has an undergraduate degree in financial planning. Many have much more. Financial planners are the best qualified of all professionals. No one has better training.
Ten years was plenty of time for non-graduates to get their act together. Most completed their studies on-line, part-time, in under five years. Some did it quicker: the recognized prior learning rules gave one unit for every two years of work experience, with a cap of 12 units, or 50% of the course.
Most enjoyed their study, learning there was a lot they needed to learn. Education is the best investment. Every investment adviser knows that. And the study created sound learning habits. Financial planning is the most learned of all the professions. It is heady stuff, but most keep up.
A financial planning graduate has majors in income tax, estate planning, Centrelink, employment counseling, investing in property, business advice, investing in shares, investment structures, as well as minors in risk insurance products and managed funds.
A financial planning graduate has studied at least two units on business and professional ethics. Ethics, and always doing the right thing by your client, are the keys to success as a CFP.
Many of the old guys got a taste for study and continued on to complete excellent masters degrees in financial planning. They did not have the privilege of a university education when young, so they grabbed it now.
Financial planners set the standard for depth and quality of professional training.
Certified Product Specialists
K&K honored their election promise “no adviser left behind”. They introduced the designation of a “Certified Product Specialist” as a dedicated financial product adviser. CPSs do good work. But a CPS is not a CFP, and everyone knows this.
A CPS can only advise on financial products. Risk insurance policies and managed funds. A CPS works for an institution, not the client. A CPS is not required to put the client’s interest first and there is no pretence they do. Everyone knows a CPS works for an institution. It’s on her website, her business card, her FSG and her letterhead. She is proud she does.
A CPS has to be “honest in her presentation”. This is the core promise and premise of the Financial Products Act. Its also the motto of the Australian Society of Certified Product Specialists, which has its own code of ethics and CPS training program, focused solely on products.
Clients trust their insurance policies
In 2026 clients trust their insurance policies. Fair and sensible rules: you pay the premium and you get the benefits. No ifs, buts or may-bees; no fancy fine print; no dodgy claim managers.
But it was not always like this. Back in 2016 CommInsure did not even have modern medical definitions in risk insurance policies. K&K’s 2019 Royal Commission into Dodgy Claim Managers fixed this: now all risk insurance documents have to be in font size 12 or larger, plain English, and clear, concise and effective.
The Risk Insurance Definitions Committee is controlled by the RACGP and the RACFP. A stroke is “a stroke”, and a heart attack is “a heart attack”. Brilliant. Simple, and effective.
The lawyers said it could not be done, that words could not mean what they say. But its been done.
Clients trust their institutions
ASIC broke new ground when it forced the CBA and CBus to merge. They may have been too big to fail but they were not too big to be merged.
They had more in common than just the first two letters of their names. Virtually identical systems and historical investment performance made it too easy. CBus took over CBA, and its claims management problems. The floodgates to rationalization opened. All the institutions merged. Efficiency soared.
In 2026 there are just four main financial institutions. Four is enough. What sort of an industry needs more than four main players, anyway?
MER costs are down to an average of 0.01%, the same as Vanguard International. Clients are winning.
The Member First philosophy of industry super funds dominates the DNA. Its all about member service and satisfaction. And those low MER costs.
Clients trust ASIC
K&K called a conference to work out ASIC’s relationship with certain fractious Senators and other parliamentarians.
They realized they were all on the same side. They all wanted better financial planning standards. They stopped having hateful and wasteful point scoring Senate Enquiries and instead formed the ASIC/Senate Friendship Association. They meet monthly to work out how they can do better, and how they can present a more unified and dignified public face.
Sometimes they invite AFSL responsible managers in for a chat, to get ideas on how to make a good thing better. The responsible managers are closest to what is happening at the coal face, and what financial planners are really trying to achieve and the problems they face in doing so.
Everyone is learning a lot. The responsible managers love it: they know exactly what is expected of them.
Massive reforms to the Corporations Act
Perhaps K&K’s best move was the Financial Planning Advice Act (FPAA).
Effective from today the new FPAA regulated real financial planning advice for the first time. The old Corporations Act was inadequate. It only covered financial products, it did not cover real financial planning, and it was stuck in a pre-internet world, with limited scope and out of date concepts.
The new FPAA is a law for its times.
The new FPAA covers all aspects of financial planning. It promotes and protects real financial planning advice across the full range of competencies.
The new FPAA empowers the RACFP to set and enforce the highest possible professional standards, benchmarked against medicine and law.
ASIC and client and adviser education
K&K doubled ASIC’s taxpayer-based funding for client and adviser education.
K&K encouraged ASIC to listen to the financial planning profession. To get out there over a coffee and a Tim Tam and find out how things can improve. Create relationships with people. K&K stressed the need for trust and respect. You are not enemies, they said. You can even be friends.
ASIC reached out to AFSLs and worked with them to make AFSL Corporations Act compliance better than ever. ASIC’s disruptive-thought-leaders learned AFSLs want to be compliant. Particularly AFSLs where the Responsible Manager carries the can. Like I do at Dover.
This respect and cooperation spread through ASIC’s ranks. Morale and efficiency sky-rocketed and staff started to really enjoy their work. Empathy, effective communications and positive attitude, along with real world practical experience, and a degree in financial planning, became the ingredients for a successful ASIC career.
The 2026 ASIC team love their work. And they are good at it. The bad old times of embarrassing Senate Enquiries, the Royal Commission into Dodgy Claim Managers and harsh public scrutiny are long forgotten.
The best part of their day is getting out and meeting financial planners and AFSLs. The meet and greets are enjoyed by everyone. Professional information swaps.
ASIC’s consumer education program
ASIC’s Money Smart program expanded, and was marketed better. By 2026 its the most visited Australian website. It’s particularly popular with the highly-adaptive-early-adoptive-internet-savvy-over-55s, who go on-line for most of their information and don’t read newspapers anymore.
ASIC’s consumer education program is a world-class success story, and has been featured on SBS’s prize-winning 7.30 Report as a model for regulators around the world.
ASIC’s big break-through: adviser liaison and education program
ASIC’s “Compliance Culture” website is a friendly one-stop internet shop for all things compliance.
It has a simple, intuitive example-driven format teaching advisers how to write short, clear, concise and effective SOAs, FSGs, and other client materials.
The 2026 ASIC is results driven. Its funding model rewards good performance. Compliance has never been better. AFSLs can just ring up and get an ASIC answer to their compliance questions over the phone. Can you believe that?
Each AFSL has a nominated ASIC contact, with whom they have regular meetings to discuss how compliance can be improved. Seems sound and sensible, even obvious, but it was not always like that. Back in 2016 it was almost impossible to get a call returned.
ASIC’s Compliance Culture website features financial planning e-books with titles like “101 Common Mistakes in SOAs” and “101 Things Financial Planning is Really About”, an even bigger e-book called “The ASIC Way” and free monthly on-line Compliance CPD for all financial planners, no matter which AFSL they are with.
ASIC even runs a blog about complex compliance issues. Its called “ASIC’s Friday Reflections”.
In 2026 financial planners learn what ASIC wants and expects just by visiting the ASIC website!
It’s a long way from the bad old days when name and shame was the name of a game, a facade of effective enforcement. And a bank AFSL could log 8,000 client complaints without lodging a single ASIC contravention report. And no one asked why?
Nothing like that could happen in 2026.
ASIC harmonized its AFSL contravention report policies, and no longer assumes an AFSL that detects a breach is non-compliant. Contravention reports suggest a compliant AFSL, not a non-compliant AFSL.
Just common sense you say, but it was break-through at the time.
ASIC’s stakeholders: a study of success
In 2016 less than 20% of ASIC’s stakeholders thought it was doing a good job.
In 2026 more than 80% of ASIC’s stakeholders think it is doing a good job.
Well done ASIC.
A professional external disputes resolution body
In 2026 the RACFP handles all disciplinary proceedings and complaints against members.
The Financial Planning Tribunal has a judicial function, not an administrative function. It follows the rules of evidence, the law, and its own prior decisions. Its decisions bind everyone, ie the tribunal, the client and the CFP, and are subject to judicial review. The tribunal’s statute of limitations is six-years, no more, parties pay their own costs, and can be legally represented.
The FPT respects the contract between the financial planner and the client. It assumes clients are intelligent people able to make informed decisions, and presumes CFPs are good people and not evil-to-be-punished-if-at-all possible crooks.
The FPT’s decisions can be reviewed by the courts.
The FPT expects clients to not play dumb and helpless. It assumes clients are adults who are responsible for their own financial lives. Financial planners are advisers, not underwriters responsible for everything that might go wrong.
The tribunal members are experienced CFPs with a minimum of ten years practical experience. They understand financial planners. They understand clients. They understand financial planning.
CFPs now have an independent, objective, experienced, respected and effective self-regulated external dispute resolution process. Its the hallmark of a profession.
Client satisfaction surveys generate 90% plus approval. It’s a world record for EDR satisfaction.
The classic High Court decision of Dover Financial Advisers v Commissioner of Taxation 2025 established that real fee for service financial planning advice from CFPs is tax deductible.
This led to rush on CFPs for comprehensive SOAs focusing on maintaining and maximizing current and future assessable income. It was a tax-driven investment boom and boon.
K&K completed the picture by legislating that all risk insurance premiums are deductible, and all risk insurance benefits are taxable.
The long-term result is billions saved on Government Centrelink payments. Billions every year. The public swapped public insurance for private insurance, and public pensions for private pensions. Its a self-funded retirement world, and its better than ever.
Under-insurance has virtually disappeared.
Robo-advice loses court case
The Federal Court killed robo-advice. A class action by leading law firm Slater & Gordon proved the logarithm was institutionally biased. It was programmed to give inappropriate advice, ie favour bank products, and to overlook client identity details.
Why pay off a home loan when you can buy a product from a bank? There has to be something in it for us, the banks said. It can’t be all about the client, can it? We have shareholders to keep happy, you know.
The court held this was inappropriate, even negligent, advice. It went further to say a financial planner cannot provide appropriate advice if they do not directly communicate with the client. The old “know your client rule” was re-born. The claims were huge: 100,000 inappropriate SOAs.
But the insurer only paid the first claim. Not the other 99,999 claims. Can’t blame it. That’s all the professional indemnity insurance policy said it had to do.
Belatedly realizing robo-advisers did not have adequate compensation arrangements, not to mention the huge identity fraud risk, ASIC closed them down.
No blame, no pack-drill just a new Robo-RG, and they were gone. Which is good. They had no place in a profession.
Financial gender equality
K&K’s best move was government sponsored universal super contributions for low-income earners. It was the first thing they did once in power. Women, for so long the financially forgotten, were the big winners. Womens’ wealth is at a record high. Domestic violence is at a record low. Money cannot buy happiness but it can help buy safety for women.
Finally, the balancing of the budget
At the same time, K&K actually balanced the federal budget. No one believed they could. But they did.
Financial planners have helped millions of Australians became financially independent, make more money, pay more tax and move en-masse off the Centrelink welfare system. Australia is a model economy envied around the world.
Well done K&K. Well done ASIC. Well done RACFP. Well done CFPs. You got there. Financial planning is a profession.