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Strategic partnership with Lifespan FP - overview & FAQ

Background and intentions

Next year your AFSL, Independent Financial Advisers Australia, turns 10 years old.

IFA has always been independent, right from day one. We didn’t decide to become independent because it was a popular thing to do, or we had to save our reputation or fix our brand. It’s part of our DNA. To that extent your AFSL is somewhat unique in the marketplace.


There can be a downside to ‘swimming against the current’ in a boutique AFSL, though … it’s more difficult to access all the services that other advisers who are part of a large AFSL often take for granted.


So there’s the challenge:


is there a way to deliver you the services of a large AFSL

while still protecting your independent business model?


With that in mind, we opened conversations with Lifespan about shared services late in 2021, and over time we have got to know each other very well. Having been operating since 1994, Lifespan is one of Australia’s largest non-institutional AFSLs, with nearly 300 advisers. Like us, they’re a family-owned business, and their values are very much aligned with ours.


With that in mind, let’s turn to the questions we’ve received …


Will Lifespan be the licensee going forward?

No, IFA is retaining its license and continues to authorize only independent advisers.


How does the alliance impact on the independence given other Lifespan advisers may not be independent?

It doesn’t. Lifespan is set up to appeal to a broad adviser business model which means they do not meet the conditions of independence. IFA is accessing some of the large AFSL’s services for the benefit of you, an independent adviser, however IFA retains its own license and continues to meet the laws regarding independence.


At a practical level, how does this affect us?

The intention is to deliver you all the services of a large AFSL but without compromising any of your unique positioning as an independent adviser. Obviously Lifespan has a larger administration infrastructure than we have, as well as greater buying power in the market. This will give you access to …

  • a larger pool of subject matter experts for technical and compliance queries,

  • an extensive, open architecture APL,

  • a more active CPD program including opportunities for professional & personal development and practice management,

  • additional guides, templates, and technical calculators,

  • marketing resources including client lifestyle articles that can be branded and downloaded for distribution to your prospect/client lists,

  • adviser education tools such as a monthly podcast on the subject of marketing ideas, and

  • access to a network of industry suppliers offering discounts and/or preferential access.

  • Specifics about these extra services will be announced progressively over the next few months.

When is the start date? When do I meet their people?

Actually, we started accessing some of their services some months ago and you may already have met some of their people. For instance, your accessibility to the ‘Tech Team’ that we announced in September last year is an arrangement we have been able to deliver you courtesy of our partnership with Lifespan. So too the compliance audits which we announced in July last year.


Who will be our initial point of contact?

That doesn’t change – you still reach us over the phone or via email directly. There will be some services that you access directly, such as the technical help facility, and we will make this clear as we announce the introduction of each new service on your adviser portal.


Is this likely to change our PI cover?

IFA has never had a claim and as a result our community of advisers enjoys the cheapest PI policy on the market, as near as I can tell. To put that into perspective, I had a conversation with a self-licensed adviser the other day who also has a ‘clean record’, and his PI premium is just over $20,000, which is proportionately three times that of IFA’s policy. This sort of comparison isn’t uncommon, by the way.


We are making no changes to our license nor our Responsible Manager, but we will have access to a larger pool of talent and experience through Lifespan’s broader compliance people and resources. If anything we are hoping for our PI to reflect these changes.


Should we redo our standard documents?

The actual question was:

As a flow on from that, we are in the process of revamping some of the documents (e.g. Terms of engagement etc.). However, will these likely change to Lifesplan templates? If so, what would be the ETA on that as I’ll just wait for the new version if there is one.


No need to wait for possible updates because there will be no change to our branding and no wholesale/broadbrush changes to your suite of documentation. We have an ongoing program in place to revise, update and improve your templates, guides, policies, procedures and other materials to account for any legislative updates, administrative changes, and the like, but the most up to date versions of your documentation is available on your adviser portal and we will always let you know when a new version is available on the portal.


Will we still be paid monthly, or do they do it more frequently?

IFA will continue to run adviser fee payments monthly, and client commission rebates quarterly.


Will we still be using Revex for invoicing?

IFA has no plans to change from Revex. Lifespan also uses Revex and have some processes that we will be looking at more closely over the next year to enhance the system.


What software providers/CRMs do they have working relationships with?

AdviserLogic, Midwinter, Plutosoft, Advice Intelligence, AstuteWheel, Xplan are included in the list. A full list of thirdparty providers who are offering preferential treatment and/or discounts through Lifespan’s arrangement will be posted to the adviser portal shortly.


Does IFA-Aust gain access to Lifespan midwinter resources?

Yes, there is a 20% discount for Midwinter provided it is billed to the AFSL. To discuss getting access to this discount please email admin@ifa-aust.com.au.


What ratings agencies do they use?

Mercer.


Doesn't an APL impact on our independence?

When IFA first started in 2014 the types of APL that were most common in the industry were, in our opinion, most certainly impediments to independence. They were small, closed lists of recommended products generally were owned and/or operated by the AFSL itself.


It wasn’t until several years later that the ASIC clarified its view on how it would administer the independence laws insofar as they pertained to APLs. For instance, ASIC specified that APLs had to be ‘open architecture’ such that they did not constitute a material limitation on an adviser’s ability to recommend products. Lifespan’s APL meets this open architecture definition, plus it’s very broad, actively operated, and benefits from some rate card discounts made possible by having nearly 300 advisers on their AFSL.


At this stage it’s ‘business as usual’ for IFA advisers, who have the Financial Product Research Policy to rely on when making investment recommendations. We are currently reviewing the FPRP in the context of Lifespan’s APL and introduce those improvements to you later this year to give you plenty of time to have a good look at it and get comfortable with what’s available.


Will Syncplicity still be used, or will we move to having everything stored within our chosen CRM?

Syncplicity is secure IT infrastructure that was chosen for three main reasons:

  1. it gives IFA advisers can have complete control and choice over whatever CRM they prefer while still giving IFA access to key disclosure documents,

  2. it enables IFA to prove to the Regulator and the PI insurer that we are monitoring and supervising the activities of advisers authorized on the license, and

  3. it satisfies the records retention requirements of the law.

By adopting some of the processes that have worked very well for Lifespan over the years we hope to simplify in this area but not until we are clear on meeting the above three objectives. At this stage there is no change.


What is the cost of their paraplanning services?

Lifespan doesn’t have paraplanning services available at this point, however there are several paraplanning firms available on the third party vendor list, refer to the adviser portal.


I want to grow my business and I need help. Does Lifespan offer coaching?

No they don’t however IFA does. Reach out using THIS LINK to book a time and we can help you.

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