Francesco De Ferrari has at least one important credential needed to take over the running of Australia’s largest wealth management company, AMP. He is a self-confessed "glass half full" kind of guy.
It would be even better if he had a glass quarter full attitude. Being on the cusp of a potentially organisation-changing moment when Commissioner Kenneth Hayne releases recommendations for the industry, a big lick of optimism will come in handy.
If the royal commission’s recommendations are sufficiently draconian, his appointment would represent the biggest case of corporate bait and switch in living memory.
Rather than taking over a large company with opportunities to regain its once-proud tradition as a respected custodian of people’s wealth, Ferrari might need to turn his hand to becoming a highly-paid asset salesman.
Having said that Ferrari is formulating his plans based on the financial services industry not being stripped of its vertically integrated model.
And he is pretty excited about the opportunities.
He also has a contingency plan if the vertical integration model is outlawed. Unfortunately he didn’t let me in on the detail but he has clearly given it plenty of thought.
Right now what excites him is the fact that most of the big banks that had dominated the wealth management space have all pulled up stumps.
He sees this as an opportunity for AMP. The fellow has done his homework on Australia and understands there is gold in them there hills - a $2.7 trillion mandated superannuation industry.
“Everything starts with understanding if you have a market and a need and so the first order question we need to ask ourselves is - do Australians have a need to receive quality financial advice through their lifetime and in retirement."
His answer is yes.
I followed it, I wouldn’t say particularly closely A number of those interviews were pretty long.Francesco de Ferrari on the royal commission
"My observations from the complexity of the tax code and a number of other elements is that there is an absolute need and I think if that need were unmet I think we would have social repercussions on Australia as a whole."
So, Ferrari reasons, "there clearly is a need for the provision of quality financial advice in a cost-effective manner to clients."
It’s a great plan. All that’s needed is for customers to trust that AMP will provide them with high quality advice and charge them for the advice provided. It also requires the customers to have trust that the processes are in place to ensure this.
"For the AMP, since we are a market leader in advice it [the royal commission] has highlighted a number of issues that we need to absolutely get on top and solve as quickly as possible," he admits.
(Indeed with Ferrari-like speed.)
But this doesn’t seem to dampen Ferrari’s glass half full enthusiasm to capitalise on AMP’s current integrated model which he says works for customers as long as conflicts are managed.
It sounds easy but after speaking with Ferrari I was keen to know how closely he had followed the travails of the royal commission.
"I followed it, I wouldn’t say particularly closely A number of those interviews were pretty long.”
Maybe the transcripts would make good Christmas holiday reading.