Originally published |18 October 2017

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  These words were penned in 1905 by Spanish-American Philsopher, George Santayana.  But as a society, especially in the financial services industry, have we ever really given this aphorism it’s due?

Do you remember doing history at school? I loved it, and still do.  To me, learning about history provided me with the way understanding how our current society was formed.  

Do we use the same philosophy in financial planning? I will put my hand up and say I do.

We, as an industry, have had Legislation altered many times to force change. Is this because we, as an industry, lack the desire to learn from history?

And why do we need Governments to intervene and change Legislation in Financial Servcies? To me, that’s easy to answer, because as an industry, we haven’t wanted to change and learn from the past.

Now that statement is a  generalization, and there are many men and women in our industry who embrace change and want our industry to improve, but there is still a group of interrupters who heavily influence our Governments and Industry Associations, because they want the status quo retained as it increases their bottom line.

Things like trying water down best interest, or education reforms.  These two, for example, have been legislated because we, as an industry couldn’t learn from history.  We couldn’t get our heads around “reasonable basis for advice” and “know your client, know your product” so governments got harder on us and legislated acting in a client’s best interests.  And the education reforms are because we, as an industry, thought it was ok to do a two day course to be able to develop strategies for a client’s future.  So once again, because we didn’t learn, the Government has now said, you know what, you are going to have to study some more and pass an annual exam to keep doing what you are doing.

If we don’t learn from the past, we won’t be condemned to repeat it, we will have our futures forcibly changed.