Australia: Calls to stop changes to risk commissions

| 09 Jun 2022

ClearView is calling on the Treasury to avoid tinkering with commission rates to ensure accessibility and affordability.

In a survey conducted by ClearView, about 67% of financial advisers say they would stop offering standalone risk advice if there are further changes to life insurance commissions.

In addition, a further 20% are unsure if they would continue providing risk advice.

As it stands, 94% of advisers accept life insurance commissions, ClearView said, but 73% believe the current caps are inadequate. Less than a quarter of advisers believe the current 60/20 setting is appropriate. 

Further, 70% of advisers do not plan to change the way they charge for life insurance advice; the vast majority (58%) charge upfront commissions, 26% a combination of fees and commissions and 10% charge level commissions. 

The survey also found that close to 70% of advisers do not believe consumers will pay a fee for risk insurance advice, likely explaining why just 6% of respondents use a fee for service model.

ClearView surveyed members as part of its Quality of Advice Review submission, ultimately determining that the Life Insurance Framework (LIF) has had no impact on the quality of advice provided; just 5% of advisers believe it has.

However, it has impacted its viability as a service offering and hampered Australians' access to life insurance advice, with 30% of advisers saying they often turn clients away and a further 42% saying they sometimes turn them away because their needs are too simple and there's little to no profit to be made. 

"Advisers are often the ones most impacted by regulatory change but historically their voice has been drowned out by the large institutions and their industry bodies," ClearView managing director Simon Swanson said.

"Consumers should be able to choose how they pay for life insurance advice, be that fees, commissions or a combination of both," Swanson said.

He added that while LIF is not perfect, it is better than a blanket ban on commissions. 

"Further changes are unnecessary and would have many potential unintended consequences including fewer people seeking professional advice, fewer advisers providing life insurance advice and the financial cost of caring for the sick and injured falling back on their families," Swanson said. 

The survey was conducted in April and May this year and received responses from 403 advisers.