Boutique Financial Planners Group (BFP) is an association that supports privately owned Australian Financial Service Licence holders (AFSLs) who provide financial advice and products in the best interest of clients.
BFP was incorporated in April 2002 but has an informal history going back to 1996 and now has over 85 principal members, with members in every State.
The full legal name of our association is Boutique Financial Planning Principals Group Inc which, for practical purposes, is commonly referred to as Boutique Financial Planners (BFP).
BFP is the only group which has been established to specifically represent the interests and high ideals of small, independent and independently-owned financial planning AFSLs who provide tailored, regular and ongoing advice in the clients’ best interests.
In this context, the term “independent” means that the Licensee business is privately owned and not subject to ownership influence from product providers; it also means the Licensee has freedom of choice to choose from the full spectrum of products and services allowed under their Licence. For the full definition and how it relates to our membership criteria see the BFP Constitution.
"Boutique" means that generally members have less than 5 financial advisors (with a maximum of 20) and that at least one of the principals works in the business as a financial adviser, although larger firms may submit a membership application for consideration.
Major Aims and Achievements of the BFP
Reasonable Business Environment
A reasonable regulatory and legislative environment is essential for financial planning in general and our members in particular.
BFP provides a direct voice to regulators and politicians about matters that impact on our sector in general and our members in particular.
BFP has held direct contact with politicians and Ministers in general, and the Parliamentary Joint Committee in particular, on issues including the special value of small independently-owned AFSLs in the financial planning environment and the impact that legislation such as FSRA and FOFA has on our sector and, ultimately, the Australian public.
- The 2003 FSR guide “Small Business and Your AFS Licence” was a result of direct collaboration between ASIC and BFP.
- BFP was an early advocate for simplification of the Statement of Advice requirements and between 2004 and 2008 made numerous submissions to, and had many discussions with, ASIC and Treasury.
- We made a submission to the 2011 Parliamentary Joint Committee regarding the initial 2010 draft FOFA bills and continued to advocate against the "opt in " provisions of the 2011 draft bills.
- BFP has also made a submission to, and met with, ASIC regarding the impact of CP200 (changes to MDA operators) on boutique licensees offering MDA services or using the "No Action Letter" to offer MDA services under a limited Power of Attorney.
- BFP lodged a submission with Treasury and the Senate Economic Legislation Committee in 2014 broadly supporting the FOFA Amendments (except for commissions on general advice) and advocating refinements to the Fee Disclosure Statement requirements to exclude arrangements where clients are directly invoiced on a regular basis by their adviser.
- BFP provided a second round submission to the Financial System Inquiry commenting on the Inquiry's questions and observations in regard to accessibility, independence, general advice, compensation and other matters.
BFP provides a strong boutique licensee voice to FPA, supports the professional thrust of FPA and encourages FPA to consider the BFP as the voice of the smaller independently owned practices. Senior FPA representatives attend and present at our Annual Conference.
Public Awareness and Recognition
BFP promotes the importance of choice and the value of financial planning advice that is not influenced by institutional ownership. BFP has established effective relationships with the major political parties and media organisations and continues to promote the important differences between client focused boutique licensees and institutionally-owned product focused licensees and the major differences between “advice businesses” and “product distribution” businesses.
A major, and continuing, issue that we have strongly advocated for is that the full details of the licensee, including its ultimate ownership, be included in any and all marketing material to ensure the public are fully informed when choosing a financial adviser.
Sharing the Knowledge
BFP helps members provide better client-centric financial planning advice by overcoming the problems and difficulties common to small businesses typified by our membership in areas such as business processes, practice development and compliance.
The sharing of ideas, information and documents between members is enabled through our exclusive email community using Google Groups. Every member (and nominated advisers/staff) are added to our general Boutique Members google group, however there are additional smaller special interest groups discussing issues and/or having regular meetings about Portfolio Construction and XPLAN.
The annual two day BFP conference, usually held in September each year, is designed to be highly interactive and focuses solely on small AFSL issues. There are no product or service provider sponsorships. The last three conferences have been awarded more than 10 FPA CPD points.
BFP uses the members’ group purchasing power and influence for better pricing arrangements from research and software providers which more than offset the cost of BFP membership.
Adviser Community Support
BFP promotes friendship and sharing between members and extends that support to authorised representatives who wish to obtain their own AFS licence. The value of a welcoming and responsive community that is eager to provide practical help to members cannot be underestimated.