Financial Planning
BTFG faces possible union action

The Finance Sector Union is planning urgent workplace meetings and teleconferences with BT Financial Advice employees impacted by a planned restructure of BT Financial Group's advice offering.

Last week BT Financial Group told Financial Standard it was undertaking a review of its financial advice offering with a view to discontinuing the Virtual Advice offering.

It would also see the removal of the Advanced Financial Planner role for those operating outside of BTFG's Partnerships business.

According to FSU communications to BT staff, such a move would see the dismissal of at least 85 employees across the country. A number of financial advisers would also be reappointed to general advice roles while the total number of leadership roles within the business would also be reduced.

A BT spokesperson told Financial Standard: "The proposed changes include a large number of redeployment opportunities into roles where our clients need them most and no individual outcomes have yet been determined."

"If in the event employees are not re-deployed into alternative roles, retrenchment entitlements will be provided in accordance with our employment obligations."

The FSU urged affected BT Financial Advice and Advice Service Delivery staff to contact the union to discuss the proposed job cuts. BT Financial Advice is currently in consultation with those staff affected, with a final decision expected at the end of the month.

Many of those expected to be impacted by the changes are in the early stages of their advice careers, and Association of Financial Advisers' chief executive Phil Kewin said the action does little to attract new entrants to the industry.

"We're seeing increased scrutiny and an increased cost to deliver and so the concern is where the pathway for new advisers is going to be. I'm sure many professional advisers are setting themselves up for the future now but you can see that this is potentially going to raise further questions as to how we're going to develop new advisers, particularly from 1 January 2019," Kewin said.

With the institutions having served as somewhat of a nurturing ground for new advisers over the years, the big question now is where a sustainable stream of new advisers is going to start.

"We know that the professional standards journey will cement advice as a legitimate, professional career path students can follow but the question now is how are they going to do that when the organisations that are best resourced to take on new advisers are potentially not looking to do that," Kewin said.

The FSU could not be reached for comment.

This story was updated at 3pm.

Read more: BT Financial AdviceBT Financial GroupFSUBTFGFinance Sector UnionFinancial StandardAFAAssociation of Financial AdvisersPhil KewinWestpac
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