The financial planning industry has fought tooth-and-nail to resist much need regulation and accountability. But now it may be bought into the light whether it wants to go or not.

Consumer advocate Christopher Zinn hopes to drag financial planners into the sunlight. Image:

Consumer advocate Christopher Zinn hopes to drag financial planners into the sunlight. Image:

Financial services expert Angus Woods and independent consumer advocate Christopher Zinn have created a website, called Adviser Ratings, enabling consumers to review and rate financial planners. The two came up with the idea in an effort to restore “confidence and competence” to an industry mired in deceit and shady, self-serving parochialism.

Mr Zinn hopes to register more than 18,000 financial planners across Australia.

“ASIC is trying to come up with a register at the moment, but that’s going to take some time,” said Mr Zinn. “This is a first take on a register. We’re inviting planners to contribute their profile to the list.”

As expected, financial planners aren’t exactly falling over themselves to comply. The advice of financial planners about finance is little better than tips from random punters on a horserace. It’s no wonder they are resisting any and all attempts at accountability.

Financial planners have always claimed that their clients are not very good at assessing the quality of the information they provide. Advice that turns out badly for the client, they say, doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad advice.

But they aren’t the ones who have lost all their money.

Understandably there is a crisis of confidence in the industry. Financial planners believe most financial markets are too complex for non-professionals to understand and negotiate. And it is their wish, they say, to get consumers into the game.

If history shows us anything, it is that this is a game only the financial planners win. There are many high-profile and outrageous cases of abuse of trust, the industry has consistently refused any attempts at reform, and rejects all calls for accountability.

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