Trust is fundamental to our existence. We experience it and learn to rely on it, from a young age.
From the tender touch and unspoken words of our parents, to the strength and safety we draw from family, friends and organisations who help and support us. Trust underpins everything we do!
So what happened?
In recent times we have seen some incredible breaches of trust, apparently for reasons such as:
- Financial gain
- Sexual gratification
- Power and influence
These five things individually or combinations of them have resulted in misalignment, abuse and financial and personal distress and ruin.
The question of “who we trust”, is one of the most concerning issues we face. It’s not so much a lack of trust but a matter of placing too much trust in the wrong people, products and places.
It now seems that trusting too much can have devastating personal and financial impacts. Trust in people, products, places and organisations is now being questioned in all areas of our lives.
Through recent events in Australia and throughout the world we have seen trust breaches in many areas including:
- Religious institutions/leaders
- Business and financial institutions
- Celebrities and personal ‘icons’
There has been consistent failure in safety nets and safeguards supposedly built into “the system” in numerous circumstances.
Curiously, at the same time, we continue to place ever increasing faith in technology. We use Uber and Airbnb to ride in cars and stay in the homes of people we’ve never met!
Where to from here?
From our perspective, trust underlies everything we do – in fact, it is the first “pillar” of our client relationships mantra: Trust Loyalty Care.
So – it’s “business as usual” for us. We have always operated unquestionably in the best interests of our clients and our financial and business advice has always reflected this – it’s so basic!
Not all financial advisors are created equal
The Royal Commission into the Australian Financial Services Industry has been on everyone’s lips and has uncovered a vast array of unlawful and unethical behaviours. The majority of this misconduct has been linked to the major banks and AMP. In a lot of cases, the issues identified arose due to the vertical integration (ie cross selling of products, restrictive bank-only product lists, etc) of the services provided within the individual company.
HMH has not been exempt from this process and our audit reports have been provided and reviewed by the Royal Commission. We believe our history of strong client relationships has stemmed from a distinct separation of our own business, from financial product providers.
We have held our own Financial Services Licence since 1987 and thus are unrestricted in which financial products we offer to clients. We see ourselves as an accounting firm with a financial planning arm and we have always earned our income on a fee for service basis - rather than the traditional conflicted commission structure. During the initial financial planning process we go to great lengths to ensure clients understand the underlying fee structure of all products.
We are not standing still. This Royal Commission has obviously been needed for quite some time and we have embraced it. We believe that the result of the Commission will be a financial services industry that is more ethical, that creates a closer relationship with clients and ultimately produces a high quality of advice. We certainly hope this will be the case.
Remember the basic tests.
In addition to strengthened laws and more transparency resulting from the Royal Commission, we should all remember the basics of good financial (and life) decision making:
- Understand the process
- Have clear objectives
- Do your research
- Use common sense
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
- If it sounds too good to be true- it probably is!
- If you don’t understand it - don’t do it!
As always, we’re here to help you grow and prosper!