FINANCIAL planners at National Australia Bank have been warned to brace for big cuts to their commissions-based income, as a slowing market, higher consumer expectations and new regulations trigger changes to companies' pricing structures, according to an internal document.
The adjustment, to begin in December, is likely to send shock waves through the ranks of senior financial planners who for years have enjoyed a steady income thanks in part to percentages earned on previous sales - with the clients often unaware of the ongoing costs.
"Whether it's right or wrong to have been sitting on these books, to suddenly have your revenue cut in some cases by 50 per cent, it doesn't allow you to continue to live the life you've been budgeting for," said one financial planner.
The change will end the practice of continuing commissions generated by past sales of products, which in some cases are passed from one planner to the next on retirement. That revenue has helped financial planners achieve monthly sales goals by NAB financial planners, keeping their incomes high.
"Since the global financial crisis in 2007, markets have been and remain subdued," said a NAB employee briefing on the proposed changes obtained by BusinessDay. "The growth experienced in the preceding decade is unlikely to return. Subdued revenue puts immense pressure on our cost base."
The briefing also hinted that customer inertia could no longer be counted on to ensure revenue.
"Increasingly, more customers are demanding value be delivered and where actual value is not deemed to be sufficient, customers are moving relationships, accounts and holdings to other providers where the value exchange is deemed more equitable," the document said.
Under the proposed changes, clients will receive "scaled" services, with high-needs clients getting direct advice with phone advice for customers who need less advice. The changes will also bring NAB into line with planned Future of Financial Advice reforms.
The NAB planner, who asked not to be named, said the changes would prevent clients potentially paying hundreds of dollars a year in fees to get "bugger all" service. At the same time, he said, senior financial planners would no longer receive revenue that added to the bonus targets, just for "getting out of bed".
MLC advice and marketing executive general manager Richard Nunn, who speaks for NAB's financial planners, said the changes put the company at the forefront of the industry's evolution. "NAB Wealth has led the industry in championing for increased transparency within advice relationships," he said.