Strength in Unity
The announcement that the two main NZ Adviser Associations are to form a new entity together has significant positive implications for all stakeholders.
The coming together has been talked about for many months, particularly since the eminently successful joint National Conference staged in Auckland last year.
The commonality of purpose, the free exchanges of shared experiences - both public and private - and the busy air around the conversations taking place everywhere, suggested that the time was right to consider more formal arrangements.
I have no doubt that the leadership of both organisations have been communing frequently and with some intensity over recent months, and it is pleasing to see their efforts resulting in a joint organisation to take the advice industry into the next phase of development.
Of course, there will be those who dislike this unity for their own reasons, but holding on to old grudges steeped in historic rivalries, borne of a bygone era, should be discarded in favour of the future. So far, changing history has only been achieved on the pages of science fiction, or by imaginative academics eager to put their own slant on past events.
Having a stronger, unified body offers a significant opportunity to carry a more effective message to consumers, regulators, and legislators, and to address the concerns of these stakeholders in a more efficient manner than has been possible in the past.
It's also worth mentioning that the opportunity to develop a broad consensus among stakeholders is unique in the financial services world.
Take a look at any of the Australian financial services media and the pages are full of the latest Enforceable Undertaking, banning, censuring, or sentencing of some miscreant or other.
The institutionalised white-collar crime that pervades Wall Street is more than just the stuff of fiction or of imaginative Hollywood productions, despite various attempts to clean up the scene in America.
The adversarial nature of the relationship among stakeholders in the U.K has long descended into enmity, public squabbling, and destructive conflict that has only caused poor outcomes for consumers.
So NZ has a singularly unique opportunity to create a consensual industry within a robust regulatory framework that delivers to the ultimate customer a value-added service emanating from co-operation and collaboration, rather than conflict and controversy.
That's not to say that all this will fall neatly into place in some sort of mythical utopia.
While much has been achieved to date, there is more work to be done in the months and years ahead to lay solid foundations for a strong, resilient financial advice industry, supported by an equally dynamic and progressive unified adviser body.