2024 Australian Wealth Management awards winners

Lifespan Financial Planning winners of the Australian Wealth Management Awards Best Independent Dealer Group 2024
Lifespan Financial Planning was announced last night as winner of the Best Independent Dealer Group of the Year at the inaugural Australian Wealth Management Awards. Lifespan adviser, Angus Taylor of Sheffield Financial Services was recognised as the Best Young Adviser of the Year.

As Lifespan CEO Eugene Ardino said, “Congratulations to all of the team at Lifespan as this is very much a team award which we could not achieve without the hard work, dedication and passion that each and every one of you show day in, day out!”

And from founder, John Ardino, “It is truly a testament to the whole team.  Each adviser and client responds to aspects of the whole business. Thanks all for working so well together to serve our community.”

These awards champion the achievements of the best and brightest in the nation’s wealth management industry.

A total of 25 winners were chosen out of 228 finalists across every sector of the wealth management industry.

The black-tie gala ceremony showcased the depth of talent in the nation’s leading professionals and businesses in the wealth management industry while affirming the sector’s essential role in supporting the expansion of Australia’s economy.

The entire industry gained national recognition for excellence at the premier awards night, from executives to rising stars, as well as asset and fund managers, super funds, insurance firms, innovative technology firms, dealer groups, custodians, ETF providers and financial advisers.

Link for the award acceptance speech

2023 Lifespan Year in Review

In our 2023 Lifespan Year in Review video, we take a look back on the year that was with our fabulous adviser community. We’ve loved sharing it with you.

We welcomed 37 new advisers, including 4 provisional advisers and 2 new entrants completing their Professional Year.

We held numerous Peer Group gatherings, 1 virtual, 1 hybrid & 2 live PD Days in 3 states, and our biggest National Conference ever in Melbourne.

24 webinar sessions from our Education Partners and other valued providers were delivered, and we hosted 2 Education Partner briefings.

We released the first two episodes of the Lifespan Investment Series and commenced our Lifespan Female Advice Network (FAN) events.

We were actively involved in sharing our thoughts and advocating for advisers, with over 71 articles or mentions in the financial press.

Lifespan Partnership welcomed 17 new AFSL partners and supported 5 AFSLs to successfully obtain their own AFSL.

We are an award-winning licensee with an award-winning adviser community.

On behalf of the entire Lifespan team, we would like to thank our adviser community and our Education Partners for their continued support, and hard work during 2023, and look forward to sharing 2024 with you!

The rise of the self-licensed adviser

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a self-licensed financial planner?

Listen in to this week’s ifa podcast where Lifespan CEO Eugene Ardino and Lifespan Partnership’s Tony Mantineo explain some of the factors behind the increase in the number of advisers that are opting for self-licensing and the scale of the change, as well as how Lifespan works with advisers wanting to strike out on their own.

Highlights include the responsibilities and workload associated with running your own AFSL, how the trend of mergers and acquisitions within the advice industry impacts the move to self-licensing and the importance of community and networking for advisers.

Tune in at ifa here.

ifa Excellence Awards winners 2023

We’re delighted to announce that the Lifespan group (Head Office and adviser network) won three awards in the 2023 ifa Excellence Awards held in Sydney, including the ifa Excellence Awards Dealer Group of the Year, for the third consecutive year, and Dealer Group Executive of the Year to Eugene Serravalle. It was a fantastic evening to once again be able to catch up with our fabulous advice community!

To win these awards is humbling and a testament to the strength of our adviser community. We had a strong presence with 22 finalists for these awards from across the Lifespan community. This demonstrates the quality of advice firms that we have in our network.

We would like to congratulate the following Lifespan advisers on both their success last night, but also for being recognised as finalists. We are really proud of our Lifespan adviser community, including the team at CDM Solutions, awarded Digital Advice Strategy of the Year, Kris Meuwissen and the team at Wealtheon, James McFall and the team at Yield Financial Planning, Robert Rich at Unite Wealth, Sheshan Wickramage at Wick Financial, Sangram Rana at Build My Wealth, Zachary Coleman and ZDC Financial, Terry Vogiatzis at Omura Wealth and Suganesh Kuman at YTM Financial Planning, for achieving this well-deserved recognition!

What an amazing result! You can find the winners and finalists here.

The Perfect Match. Finding your ideal Licensee Partner

Choosing a new licensee partner can often feel like you are on a 1980s dating show! You need to ask the right questions and get to know your potential partner before committing to what you hope will be a happy and content, long-term relationship.

In many ways, it can feel a lot easier and less traumatic to maintain the status quo and remain in what might be a stagnant and uninspiring relationship. But, then again, where has staying put got you so far?

Are you staying in your current licensee relationship because of fear of the unknown or a sense of dread regarding the disruption that change brings? With all the recent mergers and acquisitions, are you holding out, hoping for financial reward, or do you feel an overwhelming sense of loyalty to your current licensee and find it difficult to have the hard conversation? All these are perfectly understandable reasons to be reluctant to explore new opportunities.

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” John C. Maxwell.

Nobody ever grows, standing still. Now could be the perfect time to research and discover the best partnership for you and your business.

Expect more!

Let’s be honest… Compliance, technology, research, and technical support are simply tickets to the game. Just as having a heartbeat, being human, and being available would be if you were looking for a new romantic partner!

Undertake a compatibility test.

Your first priority should be understanding if there is a strong cultural fit. Do your values align, and will your new partner provide you with the stability and guidance you seek? Do they understand and support you and your business to grow and thrive well into the future? Are there advisers in the group with experiences you can learn from, whom you can collaborate with, share ideas, and address common challenges?

The next priority should be to understand their governance philosophy. Have they got robust compliance processes that will protect you from the potential collateral damage of adviser misconduct?

Are they flexible and responsive when it comes to technology and financial products? Do they have a managed account solution that could help build efficiencies and streamline your advice process? Are they well-resourced to deliver on their promise to provide you with the support you need and deserve?

Finding your perfect match when it comes to changing licensees can be a challenge. Being clear on what is important to you in the relationship and having certainty that your values are well aligned should always be at the top of your list.

Could Lifespan Financial Planning be your perfect match? Contact us or download our information booklet here

Lifespan finalists in ifa Excellence Awards 2023

Huge congratulations to all those finalists short-listed for the ifa Excellence Awards this year, with a record 21 from the Lifespan community.

It’s a great recognition for their role in and support of the financial planning industry, and the strength of the Lifespan adviser community.

Lifespan Head Office:
Lifespan Financial Planning – Dealer Group of the Year
Eugene Ardino – Industry Thought Leader of The Year
Eugene Serravalle – Compliance Consultant of the Year and Dealer Group Executive of the Year
Lisa Gregory – Marketing Consultant of the Year

Authorised Representatives finalists:
Kristopher Meuwissen, Wealtheon – Innovator of the Year and Regional Adviser of the Year
Sheshan Wickramage, Wick Financial – Innovator of the Year and Transformation of the Year,  Individual
Sangram Rana, Build MyWealth – Risk Adviser of the Year and SMSF Adviser of the Year
James McFall, Yield Financial Planning – Holistic Adviser of the Year
Zachary Coleman, ZDC Financial – Newcomer of the Year
Terrence Vogiatzis, Omura Wealth Advisers – Newcomer of the Year
Robert Rich, Unite Wealth – Transformation of the Year
Suganesh Kumanan, YTM Financial Planning – Young Financial Adviser of the Year

Practice finalists: 
Wealtheon  Client Servicing Company of the Year and Innovator of the Year – Company
Yield Financial Planning – Holistic Advice Firm of the Year

PLUS CDM Solution Services – Innovator of the Year – Company and Transformation of the Year – Company.

The complete list of ifa Excellence Awards 2023 finalists can be seen here.

Established your own AFSL? Now what

You can listen to the podcast here https://lifespanfp.com.au/for-advisers/podcasts/

Increasing regulation of financial services has seen a trend of practices seeking to become self-licensed through getting their own Australian Financial Services licence (AFSL). While speculation that ASIC may impose individual licensing remains just that, the number of registered advisers that hold their own AFSL or operate a boutique or small AFSL doubled from 2016-2020 to 30%[1], and a further one in 10 advisers are considering becoming self-licenced.

So why undertake a detailed process that needs time, commitment, and dedication? It is because advisers from large institutions experience over-compliance burdens, become tired of being told what to do and want more autonomy over their businesses. Similarly, those from smaller dealer groups want to retain control and flexibility over their destiny.

What do practices need to know to prepare themselves?

We are currently working with a number of practices looking at getting their own AFSL, who are using our services to support them in that process. It can be a big effort to get your own AFSL and it has become harder in recent years.

The first consideration is time. We find it can take between three to six months depending on the parties involved in completing the application process.

Decisions need to be taken around who should be nominated as the Responsible Manager as their knowledge, skills, and experience are important. Articulating the manager’s character and how they are qualified with the right know-how can be a big stumbling block. While understanding the five Options that are available to a perspective Manager to demonstrate their knowledge and skills to ASIC, it’s also important to show you have the right infrastructure and that you have time to run an AFSL.

You need to consider the AFSL process holistically, as getting the licence is just the start. 

Adhering to an AFSL is a lot of work. Some of the tasks include:

  • Putting together a compliance manual, a compliance committee meeting process, agendas, and policy documents for training and supervision, research, and pre-vet procedures, among other things.
  • Dealer codes need to be set up at the licensee level and distribution agreements obtained for different providers.
  • An ASIC-approved accountant is needed for a financial audit.
  • The ASIC register has to be updated in terms of appointing new Authorised Representatives. 
  • Then there’s AFCA membership and AUSTRAC requirements.

Once an AFSL is in place, you need the right systems and processes to ensure the smooth operation of the licence and that the advice business does not suffer from meeting the necessary compliance and regulatory demands.

That could mean you need to develop a business plan at a licensee level and a company level and do a cost analysis, including the time you spend as a Responsible Manager and the capability of your personnel. There are significant challenges.

Some businesses are merging or aligning themselves to share costs and responsibilities. If you take that path, ensure that the businesses are truly aligned and that there’s a trust factor between both parties.

How should firms plan?

You need the right infrastructure, personnel, systems, and processes. Unfortunately, many firms focus on just getting their AFSL and don’t have the time to do their own wider research. This can lead to rushed decision making and you could end up paying for support that doesn’t meet your needs.

You should explore dealer service options to obtain the packages and support appropriate for your individual needs. Try to really understand what sits behind the service offering. Look at their packages, compliance support, and personnel. Are they a publicly listed company, or privately owned?

Tap into the experience of Lifespan

Tapping the experience of an organisation such as Lifespan Partnership can be invaluable, as we can keep you up-to-date on regulatory changes and provide everything needed to run a compliant and successful AFSL.

As we’re privately owned, our focus is the AFSL, its clients, and advisers. We can also share learnings from running our own business and have a dedicated compliance manager who ran his own advisory business and who can provide a unique ‘adviser to AFSL’ perspective.

We leverage our financial planning experience to provide scale and support around technology, pricing, compliance research, and technical support. That includes a comprehensive checklist and induction training to help licensees after their AFSL application is granted. Professional development days ensure you don’t get lonely when you’re not part of a dealer group as you can share information with other AFSLs and become part of that community.

One of the major challenges of self-licensees is obtaining reasonably priced Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance, with the withdrawal of insurers from the market making this more difficult. It can also be difficult to secure reasonable excess terms where a claim needs to be made. Relationships with general insurance brokers that specialise in PI cover is critical. Our industry experience means we can leverage general insurance broker contacts that we have known for decades, allowing us to assist our AFSLs with appropriate PI cover at competitive rates. Similarly, we provide support with software and pricing and can leverage our relationships with research houses.

The additional value of connecting with a leading AFSL service partner is the peace of mind that comes from having another pair of eyes previewing your documentation templates, such as your FSGs, SOAs, compliance manuals, and policy documents. We help take the guesswork out of sometimes overwhelming corporate governance pressure, enabling your practice to thrive and operate sustainably, well into the future.

by Tony Mantineo, Head of Lifespan Partnership


[1] Investment Trends.

Lifespan Investment Series Launch

Lifespan Financial Planning is proud to announce the recent launch of  the Lifespan Investment Series – Episode 1.

These videos will be available quarterly and are designed, to not only educate and inform our advisers, but also as an education and engagement piece for our advisers to use with their clients. 

This edition includes 4 videos:

  1. Full-length episode (31.26 minutes)
  2. Short video – Australian economy (3.10 minutes)
  3. Short video – US economy (2.17 minutes)
  4. Short video – Impact on Managed Portfolios (5.54 minutes)

Click on the links above to check out these videos today!

Pendulum of change is swinging to advisers in 2023

Eugene Ardino, CEO at Lifespan Financial Planning, joins ifa podcast host Maja Garaca Djurdjevic, to discuss why he believes the pendulum of change is swinging in favour of advisers in 2023.

He gives his overview of some of the key recommendations made by Michelle Levy in the Quality of Advice Review, and details why he believes it will take at least a couple of years for some of the reforms resulting from the review to be implemented.

Eugene Ardino, hopes the government will take a closer look at Michelle Levy’s recommendation to allow superannuation funds, banks and insurers back into advice.

The Quality of Advice Review (QAR) lead, Ms Levy, has suggested that non-relevant providers won’t be stepping on advisers’ toes. It is, however, still unclear how the government views her recommendation, with Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones yet to release his assessment.

Mr Ardino said that this recommendation could present a “clear conflict of interest”.

“I think that’s the one area that I think that really needs to be looked at,” Mr Ardino said. “That was kind of what the general advice framework was for. The idea was if you’re employed by a product provider, you can give very basic general advice with a general advice warning, and it’s essentially limited to product, et cetera”.

“Look, I don’t have the exact answer as to what will work there, but I just think there need to be some fairly clear limitations as to what non-relevant providers can and can’t advise on if we’re going to go down that path,” he noted.

Mr Ardino suggested that perhaps, rather than removing general advice entirely, “we could tweak it a little bit to make it fit for what we want it to do now” — to allow product providers to give basic information without the presence of a senior adviser.

“I actually think the general advice framework is reasonably well suited to that almost as it is,” Mr Ardino opined.

There is also a fear, he noted, regarding an individual’s distinction between general and personal advice.

“The fear is also I think people are worried about letting their staff give general advice and them being accused of having given personal advice.

“It’s all well and good to try to give certainty, but I don’t think we can just open it up to be able to do whatever you like. That’s the part that I would definitely tweak and I think a lot of stakeholders in our community have also voiced their concern on that. I’m not the only one,” Mr Ardino said.

Mr Ardino also touches on Ms Levy’s latest admission that she was surprised by the extent to which advisers feel under siege.


You can listen to the podcast here.