The CEO of the AIOFP, Peter Johnston, reports on the past and future of the organisation


In mid – 1979 Peter Johnston was approached by Scottish Amicable to establish a financial advice service for the members of the South Australian National Football League [SANFL] club Glenelg where he was playing AFL. Scottish Amicable had managed a successful campaign in the Victorian Football League [VFL] and wanted to expand into the SANFL. Having just completed his Teaching studies at Sturt College of Advanced Education and looking for a different career, he established the foundations of Goldsborough Financial Services business in late 1979 which continues to operate today.

In early 1998 Goldsborough approached local competitors Intervest Securities and Patrick Whelan Investments to establish the AIOFP after witnessing the Financial Institutions infiltrating the two major Associations to dominate industry policy direction. Johnston became the Executive Director in late 1999 after 21 years of delivering retirement financial advice to clients and later sold out of Goldsborough to avoid any conflicts.

The foundation objectives of the AIOFP were:

  • to give Advisers a voice in Canberra without fear or favour
  • further their commercial position
  • act in members best interests at all times

These objectives have not changed. During his advice career Johnston was caught in 2 product failure events in 1985 and 1990 that influenced and shaped his support of affected/disadvantaged Advisers and to pursue those who are responsible for the failure.


The AIOFP’s foundation objective of acting in the best interests of its Financial Adviser members and only having former or current Financial Advisers in management and on the Board is the pivotal key point of difference to other Associations. All our decision makers are current or former Advisers, history has shown the AIOFP will not compromise this approach regardless of political or commercial incentives offered by third parties.

Another difference is that AIOFP is committed to the notion that a successful independently owned advice business is beneficial to the interests of consumers. Furthermore, the AIOFP are not political sycophants to Government nor captive to the Institutional financial influence, this stark difference to other Associations has been displayed over the LIF, FASEA, Grandfathering, compliance legislation calamities and the QAR proposal in recent times.

AIOFP political achievements include:

  • assisting Senator Rex Patrick with a solution to the FASEA 2019 date changes conundrum
  • assisting with the blocking of the detrimental 2021 CSRL changes in the Senate via cross bench support
  • lobbying for the 2021 changes to the FASEA Degree requirements.

The latter was announced at our 2021 Hunter Valley conference by then Shadow Stephen Jones and confirmed at our recent Gold Coast conference by now Minister Stephen Jones. We also assisted with the removal of former Treasurer Frydenberg from the seat of Kooyong by encouraging the 250 Advisers and their clients to put Frydenberg last on the ballot paper.


The decision by the Liberal Party to cull Advisers over the past 8 years has changed the political operational landscape for Associations. In the past all Associations were careful to remain politically bipartisan to maintain access to political parties going forward. The Liberals changed this paradigm with its unflinching attitude towards Advisers. This position has resulted in increased compliance and regulatory costs that Advisers have no choice but to pass back to consumers.

Associations have been forced in the recent times to make a decision on whether to support the Liberal direction, remain neutral or stand up for Advisers. In this, the AIOFP has demonstrated a single-minded commitment to supporting Advisers and allowing these professionals to use their specialist skills and knowledge to benefit the consumer.

The AIOFP Board made a politically calculated decision after the 2019 Federal Coalition election win on its future direction. Doing nothing was never an option but history was against the Coalition winning a fourth term. Showing no propensity to amend their attack on Advisers after the 2019 win, the AIOFP decided to back the ALP both politically and financially resulting with a strong relationship with a Government who should be in power for at least 2 terms. This outcome sets the foundations for a politically amenable relationship going forward for our members and the industry in general with Government for at least 6 years, maybe 9.

The other significant change to Association operations are Politicians now realise that the Financial Services industry should be divided into Advice OR Manufacturing/Institutions when they seek policy direction. Ever since the Institutions

infiltrated the major Advice Associations in the 1990’s their ‘divide and rule’ tactics has been detrimental to the Advice community.

The days of hybrid membership Associations having more than one member category are over in our view, Advisers need to support an Association that represents their interests, not Institutions or other third parties. Recent history has clearly demonstrated that it does not make sense for Advisers to give their political capital to any Association that does not act in their best interests.

The AIOFP has positioned itself to be the voice for Advisers in Canberra. We need the independent and independently owned advice community to join the AIOFP to maximize this position. Like the Mortgage industry we only need 2 Adviser focussed Associations representing Advisers at best, the current circa 13 is counter productive to say the least.


The most immediate issue to settle is the QAR direction, AIOFP support some aspects of LEVY’s direction but not the diluting of a Best Interests duty to consumers. Besides for being objectionable to the left of ALP politics [therefore unlikely to succeed], it will allow the Institutions back into advice, something they have proven to be very poor at over the past 30 years. It can be argued that consumers would be better off with NOT getting any advice from the institutions when their track record of product failure and incompetent management are considered.

The market has known for many years that rationalising the compliance regime will significantly reduce the cost of advice to consumers, that can be done without changing the best interests position. It is rather ironic that most of LEVY’s QAR recommendations are in favour of eliminating initiatives the Liberals had put in place.

We will also continue to lobby for the FASEA Exam to be restructured and an amnesty period to immediately allow Advisers to re – enter the industry who either failed the exam or chose not to sit for it.

Another critical issue we are pursuing is the Risk Commission position, the poor state of the Life Insurance industry and the rising cost of cover for consumers, this badly needs addressing. Attached is a paper we delivered at our December Gold Coast conference where ASIC, AFCA and CHOICE were in the audience.

We will also support the direction of Advice fees to become tax deductible but that is a very hard road in the current economic environment.


The AIOFP principal objective in 2023 is to be acknowledged within the advice community as their voice in Canberra. Yes, AIOFP strategy has polarised some market segments with its candid approach over the past 25 years but we maintain it has worked, there is a reason why AIOFP membership is growing whilst others are diminishing. A further reason for our success is quite fundamental, we will only act in the best interests of our members who in turn must act in the best interests of consumers, this symbiotic relationship works and is recognised by key market stakeholders.

Another 2023 objective is to educate consumers and centres of influence on the value of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL STRATEGIST [CFS] designation. CFS is not just about education, it’s also about Advisers having experience, mitigating risk and eliminating conflicts when dealing with consumers. Most designations are Adviser focussed and are rarely acknowledged by or beneficial for consumers. We want to change that paradigm. We expect to announce several new client opportunities for CFS Advisers to participate in during 2023. Attached is the latest CFS brochure.

At the recent AIOFP AGM boutique AFSL members requested that the AIOFP provide a CEP service for their business, we will be surveying members to ascertain the level of support for a viable business case to proceed early in the new year.

We expect our mainland China expansion to accelerate in the first quarter and have already had initial enquiries from 2 other Asian countries keen to professionalise their Advice industry.

The 2023 Conference program will commence with a 25th year Anniversary event in Bangkok with an extension in London for a delegation to attend in late July. This will include visits to Lloyds and various Life Offices, Funds Management and PI insurers. Some may want to attend the Ashes Test at THE OVAL.

On behalf of the AIOFP Board and management we hope you will enjoy business and personal success in 2023 and beyond.


Peter Johnston | Executive Director
Association of Independently Owned Financial Professionals
Suite 1211, 1 Queens Road, Melbourne VIC 3004
P 1800 111 203, d 03 9863 7574, m 0418 857 621 | Download my business card

This message is presented as a service to our community. Knowledgemaster International (KMI) or its owners and employees are not a member of any group associated with the “sale of advice” profession, any regulatory bodies, product manufacturers or hold or supply any consultancies to any government instrumentalities or lobby groups. Any actions or inactions taken as a result of reading this message are the sole responsibility of the reader.