The CoreData 2021 Licensee of the Year Awards are based on the opinions and views of financial advisers themselves. CoreData’s Licensee Research forms the basis of the awards, and it takes the form of an online survey of about 100 questions, covering myriad aspects of licensee offers and licensee leadership.
In 2021 a total of 675 advisers from more than 50 licensees completed the research, generating around 70,000 data points. The depth of this research allows CoreData to contact detailed analysis of adviser satisfaction and to calculate overall satisfaction scores.
To qualify as a candidate for the LotY Awards, a licensee needed to have at least 20 of its authorised representatives complete the Licensee Research survey.
Throughout the year CoreData conducts other research as well, including its quarterly Adviser Pulse Check surveys, which over 2020-21 gathered responses from more than 900 advisers about the outlook for their businesses and the financial advice industry.
The LotY Awards reflect advisers’ satisfaction with their licensees – and advisers are a notoriously difficult cohort to truly satisfy. They place high demands on those entities that support them and their businesses; and the role of the licensee encompasses activities that advisers increasingly regard as hygiene factors. In 2021 it was clear that factors beyond the functional licensing role of the licensee made the difference to adviser satisfaction.
Licensee leadership was a closer focus of attention in the 2021 awards, building on the introduction of Licensee Leadership Award in 2019. There are now more than a dozen aspects of the quality, suitability and competence of leadership included in the Licensee Research, and how advisers responded to these questions for the basis of the Licensee Leadership award.
The Industry Leadership Award, on the other hand, is made at CoreData’s sole discretion, and is designed to recognise actions or activities that have an impact on the licensee industry outside the confines of a single licensee entity. The details of the winner and CoreData’s rationale are set out below.
It is clear from the 2021 research that not all advisers have yet been required by their licensees to do the hard yards of overhauling business and advice processes to meet the demands of the emerging advice profession. Others are clearly and obviously much further down that track, and much of the pain of change has been assimilated by advisers. Discomfort with change often leads to lower satisfaction scores – even if the respondent understands intellectually that change ultimately is for the betterment of the advice profession, of advisers and advice practices, and of client outcomes.
CoreData has traditionally classified licensees according to ownership: institutionally branded, institutionally affiliated, and independently owned. But the changing make-up of the licensee industry led to a change in 2021 to a classification approach based on the size of licensee:
- Top Tier: A licensee that is part of a group or parent entity that has 500 or more authorised representatives in total authorised on its licences.
- Large Tier: A licensee that is part of a group or parent entity that has between 100 and 499 advisers in total authorised on its licences.
- Medium Tier: A licensee that is part of a group or parent entity that has 10 to 100 advisers in total authorised on its licences.
- Small Tier: A licensee that is part of a group or parent entity that has two to nine advisers in total authorised on its licences.
- Single: Licensees that have a sole authorised representative.
We thank all of the advisers who participated in CoreData research over the course of the past year, and we congratulate all of the finalists and winners of the 2021 CoreData Licensee of the Year Awards.
2021 CoreData Licensee of the Year Awards
2021 Licensee of the Year:
Winner: Lifespan Financial Planning
Top-Tier Licensee of the Year
Winner: GPS Wealth
Millennium3 Financial Services
RI Advice Group
Large-Tier Licensee of the Year
Winner: Lifespan Financial Planning
Affinia Financial Advisers
Matrix Planning Solutions
Medium-Tier Licensee of the Year
Winner: Fitzpatricks Private Wealth
Madison Financial Group
Two Medium-Tier licensees qualified in 2021
There are no finalists in the Small and Single licensee tiers due to the limited
numbers of responses received for individual licensees in these tiers
Licensee Leadership Award
Winner: Eugene Ardino – Lifespan Financial Planning
Marcus O’Sullivan – Affinia Financial Advisers
Allison Dummett – Matrix Planning Solutions
Industry Leadership Award
(Awarded at the discretion of CoreData Research)
Winner: Matthew Rowe – CountPlus
As the debate about individual licensing of financial advisers gathered pace in late 2020 and into the early part of 2021, Rowe took a public and prominent stance against any diminution of the role and prominence of the licensee in helping to ensure high-quality advice is delivered to Australian consumers.
Rowe argued that far from being removed from the licensing regime, licensees should remain central and indeed the standing of the licensee entity should be bolstered through, among other things, minimum capital adequacy requirements. His representations to regulators and policymakers ensured the benefits of retaining the licensee entity remained front-and-centre in any conversation about the future regulatory structure of the financial planning industry, while acknowledging and setting out potential solutions to perceived shortcomings in the role of the licensee in supporting adequate consumer protection.
In addition to industry advocacy activities, Count Financial was named in the 2021 CoreData Licensee Research as a potential licensee of choice by the greatest proportion of advisers considering switching to a new licensee in the next 12 months.