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Planning for a more secure financial future

FINANCIAL planning is becoming the new Mecca for financial institutions.

With home lending margins stripped to the bone, more people seeking wealth creation opportunities, an ageing population and the Government pushing more people to become self-funded in retirement, banks and credit societies are chasing the financial planning dollar.

The National Australia Bank’s financial planning operations have $60 billion in funds and management and more than two million customers.

The bank has been running job advertisements seeking financial planners to add to its 1,500-strong financial planning ranks.

National spokesman Brandon Phillips said financial planning contributed several hundred million dollars to the bank’s profits last year.

The bank bought MLC from Lend Lease to bolster its financial planning options. It also has added Deutsche Financial Services and actuarial firm John Nolan & Associates, and sold its County Financial Services to Ambesco.

Similarly, the Commonwealth Bank bought Colonial to access its funds under management.

Even credit and building societies such as Home and StateWest are building on their financial planning operations.

Home entered the financial planning arena last year by acquiring financial planner Gary Hasler’s practice.

It recently bolstered that with the purchase of James Doogue Securities.

Home chief executive Jim Freemantle said a lot of the society’s clients had been asking for financial planning services.

“This is our response to the fact the market is looking for financial services providers to do more than just offer loans and take deposits,” Mr Free-mantle said.

“I think you’ll find more people are looking for help to manage their financial affairs.”

StateWest Credit Society has been offering financial planning services since the 1980s.

A StateWest spokesman said the financial planning arm offered the society a way to keep its members under the StateWest umbrella.

“If anything we’ll be bolstering our financial planning area,” he said.

Financial Planners Association manager public policy Con Hristodoulidis said his organisation did not see the financial institutions’ push into financial planning as a threat.

“The banks are buying-in their financial planning knowledge, which is a good thing from where we sit,” Mr Hristodoulidis said.

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