The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has written to the Federal Government, pushing for the planning industry to be covered by just a single professional association.

ASFA chief executive Pauline Vamos’ submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee says have just one industry body would better serve financial planners.

ASFA is against the Government’s proposed regime, which would allow planners to be a member of multiple professional associations approved by the Professional Standards Council (PSC)..

“We have some concerns about multiple professional associations and about PSC approval,” Ms Vamos’ submission said.

“One of our concerns with multiple professional associations is that this creates unnecessary duplication, the risk of different standards and greater risk due to lack of scale.”

The ASFA says a single association regime would have advantages that are impossible in a multiple association regime.

“Our concern is that any additional costs could be significant and will inevitably be passed on to the consumer in an environment where price is often an inhibitor to people seeking financial advice,” the letter said.

ASFA raised a second concern about multiple agencies, saying that it would be harder to police the consistency of codes and standards between the bodies, and would require additional regulatory oversight needed to monitor them.

“Currently there are properly working examples of both models. Practicing solicitors and actuaries are required to be members of a single professional association while accountants, on the other hand, can choose between associations,” Ms Vamos said.

“We note that a single association model appears monopolistic. Given the non-commerciality or need for competitiveness in the professional association arena we do not consider this to be a problem," the ASFA submission said.

ASFA says it is in the best interest of consumers and the industry for the Government to follow its call.

“This being said if the Government opts for multiple professional associations it will be essential that they are required to have consistent codes and standards,” the submission said.

ASFA's primary concern with PSC approval of professional associations is; “The optics of limiting liability of financial advisers (and imaginably licensees) which is the cornerstone of the PSC model”.

The group said approval currently granted by PSC could instead be granted by a government agency (such as ASIC), similar to the way the Tax Practitioners Board approves associations in the tax advice industry.