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Government’s regulatory change agenda worries CEOs

Chief executives of leading Australian wealth management companies are frustrated by the uncertainty regarding the government's regulatory change agenda, according to a survey new report.

According to the survey, commissioned by the Financial Services Council (FSC) and written by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the volume and scale of the proposed reforms to superannuation and financial advice will be the biggest challenge over the next five years for the CEOs’ of wealth management companies.

The report also found CEOs were concerned some of the changes could have unintended consequences for consumers, such as increasing the cost of financial advice and worsening Australia’s underinsurance problem.

FSC CEO John Brogden said CEO said three years of reform uncertainty had taken its toll and businesses needed action to rebuild investor confidence with concerns costs associated with financial advice and insurance may rise.

In the same report, it appears that the wealth management industry is keen on infrastructure but are hindered by lack of suitable risk adjusted return for investors.

Seven out of 10 CEOs said there was a need for the industry to invest more in infrastructure. However, such investments needed to deliver a suitable risk adjusted return for investors before this could occur.

Nearly all (95%) believe the measures relating to infrastructure in the Federal Budget do not go far enough to encouraging investment.

The report also found confidence in the handling of the nation’s ageing population has plummeted, from 44% in 2010 to 15% this year, with primary concerns about Australia’s $900bn retirement savings gap.

Respondents in the survey had a number of ideas on how to boost Australia’s national savings including lifting the superannuation guarantee, encouraging and supporting an older workforce, and consumer education.

"Most chief executives consider that at least 15% of income should be contributed to superannuation to achieve an adequate retirement outcome," Wilson said.

"Some suggest it should be phased – lower at a younger age and higher as people approach retirement."
The report also found eight out of 10 CEOs supported the development of an ‘Asia Region Funds Passport’ to improve access to regional capital.

The survey comprised views of 31 chief executives representing around 80% of Australia’s $1.8 trillion in assets under management.