AMPFPA action progresses, associations merge

The AMP Financial Planners Association is anticipating a class action to be filed on behalf of its members later this month, as it gears up to merge with the Hillross Advisers Association.

Speaking to Financial Standard, AMPFPA chief executive Neil Macdonald said the filing of the action was delayed by a High Court decision in December around how class actions are funded, requiring law firm Corrs to sign up a minimum number of advisers to the action to ensure viability.

With a series of town hall meetings completed and a webinar set for this Thursday for those who couldn't attend, Macdonald said Corrs is "pretty close" to finalising its case, predicting the action will be filed later this month, if not early next.

"They're speaking to the advisers who have expressed interest to quantify their losses and I think it will be moving quite quickly after that," Macdonald said.

The Finance Sector Union, which is also exploring an action, also held meetings with impacted advisers in Sydney and Melbourne last week after it received legal counsel that any action against AMP would be costly and extremely protracted.

Macdonald has met with AMP four times since November to discuss possible solutions but said there has been little progress, he said.

"Most of our members who are staying want to know what the future business model looks like. They've gotten rid of a lot of advisers at the bottom end, but what's the offer for the ones that are staying? It's probably not a priority at the moment because AMP is in the middle of its profit announcements," he said.

"I think there will be some progress on that this year, but I think most advisers were expecting progress last year."

The update comes as the AMPFPA announces its merger with the Hillross Advisers Association, of which Macdonald is also chief executive.

Discussions around a merger have been ongoing for about two or three years, he said.

Members of each association voted in favour of the move at annual general meetings held in Melbourne last week.

Macdonald said the merger will ensure one sound voice for AMP-aligned advisers in challenging times.

"It is important to remember that despite the headlines, collectively, the vast majority of our members have provided sound, cost-effective financial advice to hundreds of thousands of everyday Australians over a very long period of time," he said.

"We continue to be very supportive of the FPA and AFA but we do believe a common voice is needed when speaking to government."

The Small Business Ombudsman asked AMP to mediate with up to 250 advice practices ahead of Christmas. At the end of January it again urged the institution to meet with advisers.

This has progressed, with Macdonald saying some members have met with AMP representatives.

Read more: FPAAMPFPAHillross Advisers AssociationAMP Financial Planners AssociationCorrsAFAFinance Sector UnionFinancial StandardHigh CourtNeil MacdonaldSmall Business Ombudsman
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