The AFA is an active participant in the Pro-Bono Financial Advice Network (PFAN). The group was formed in August 2013 by a group of concerned industry participants that consisted of Licensee, Product Manufacturer, and Industry Association representatives.
The aim was to provide an industry-wide service that had the framework, standards, and ability to monitor pro-bono financial advice for the benefit of the community and the advice profession.
The mission of the organisation is to demonstrate the financial advice profession’s commitment to the greater good of society and in so doing to positively impact the lives of those in need.
The vision is to connect financial advisers who are willing to provide pro-bono advice to Australians, in times of financial hardship. The focus is specifically personal health crisis and PFAN partners with national charitable/support organisations who have members who are in direct need of financial advice, and felt the service would be of benefit to their members.
AFA CEO, Brad Fox is a member of the PFAN Board of Directors.
- Demonstrate members fundamental belief in the value of financial advice and its ability to positively change people’s lives.
- Ensure the Australian community has access to quality financial advice and related services at no cost in times of financial hardship, specifically personal health crisis; for as long as it takes for the advice to take its course.
- Enhance the reputation and standing of financial advisers with the Australian community in order to be recognised and regarded as a trusted profession.
- Pro-bono advice is given in line with best practice and licensee requirements.
What is pro-bono advice?
- Providing advice to people who do not have the capacity to pay commercial rates for the services.
- Many individuals don’t have access to quality advice at a time when they most need it, and because of their health and financial circumstances, they cannot afford to pay.
- The people who are provided with pro-bono advice are typically battling a serious event or illness that creates a clear need for assistance.
- Pro-bono advice recipients are not simply people who have chosen not to plan for their wellbeing or protection and demonstrating a legitimate need is critical.
- Advisers who wish to provide their time to assist those in need, provide the advice services – just as they would to any other full fee paying client- at an agreed service standard.
- The advice industry, particularly licensees, take active ownership of the pro-bono advice process alongside advisers to ensure the advice is compliant and to an appropriate standard.
MS Australia - First potential partner
- There are 23,000 MS sufferers in Australia with over 1,000 new diagnosis each year (most aged between 25-35).
- MS sufferers can live a relatively normal life for most of their working life, for others the disease is much more aggressive and can result in early death.
- MS Australia was formed to create better national awareness and to work with MS Research Australia to fund research into better detection, treatments and a cure.
- This is done on behalf of state member organisations that operate relatively independently, with their own CEO to provide services and support to the MS community.
- MS Australia conducted a survey of all members and asked what services they needed the most- financial advice was ranked in the top three- therefore MS Australia is highly interested in the success of the PFAN initiative.
- Over time the PFAN will identify other charitable organisations to partner with.
The process for advisers to get involved
- Licensee engagement – agreement to supervise
- Adviser engagement to be involved – agreement to comply to standards
- Adviser registration with PFA
- Client “lead” distributed by MS to licensee via PFAN
- Adviser actions lead within agreed PFAN time frames and process- all to be compliant with licensee rules and guidelines.
- Adviser reports back to PFAN via their licensee in the agreed timeframe for discussion with MS Australia.
- Advice is predominantly general in nature and will not require an SOA.
- All initial and ongoing advice is free of charge, however fee paying referrals and non-pro bono advice work is likely to come from this initiative- including those that do not fit the relevant charity ‘pro-bono’ qualification criteria.
How to express your interest to be involved
- Recognise this initiative is a ‘must have’ for our industry for its professional development and community recognition
- Indicate your support to one of the licensee team today
- Carefully read, acknowledge and complete the agreements when provided
- Maintain compliance to the process of the licensee and the timeframes/code of PFAN when providing pro-bono advice
- Be extremely sensitive of those with illnesses – particularly around turn around times
- Report status of cases to PFAN via your licensee team for distribution to the charitable organisation
- If you need help, just ask!