There will be major changes in the finance industry in the wake of the Australian Royal Commission into misconduct, a former Australian investment chief is predicting.

Maria Wilton, the former Australian managing director of Franklin Templeton Investments - a global investment company - yesterday talked to New Zealand finance experts about learnings from the inquiry which is still ongoing.

Wilton said the commission had shone a light on certain practices which had revealed some corporate leaders didn't really know the details or what was going on inside their businesses.

"That is what I find most surprising because it is the CEO and board's job to put in place the remuneration structures. Then to say we didn't know it was leading to this conduct..."


"You can take the most ethical client-focused person. But if they are having to choose from in-house products or remuneration is focused on sales we shouldn't be surprised if people act in a certain way.

"Perhaps we've been a little bit naive."

Wilton predicted the Australian inquiry would result in directors taking on fewer board positions and a growing role for risk managers.

"People won't take on five or six board positions. Directors will be focused on one or two and doing more of a deep dive. Directors are going to move beyond the usual scope and oversight."

She said many financial services firms already had big compliance departments but risk management would become more embedded within business units.

"The silos that have grown up around the compliance and risk management teams, that will disappear."

Wilton said rebuilding trust should be the priority for the industry and firms needed to step up themselves and not wait for regulation to change.

"You can't regulate for everything. You can't regulate for ethics...certainly can't for culture."


"This is why the industry needs to step up. Regulation is going to be late to the party.

She said the industry was constantly changing which made it hard for regulators to keep up.

"I do think it puts the onus on the industry to raise standards."

Wilton said the public needed to know financial advisers were providing advice and not just out there to sell a product.

"It's about building those client relationships. Financial advice is different to selling widgets or cars."

She predicted there would be much greater focus on good consumer outcomes and more attention paid to the 5 per cent of customers who were not happy.

"The consumer is going to be the winner in the end. It is just a painful process to get there and disappointing that it has taken an airing of the dirty linen to shine a spotlight on the things that are happening."

So far the commission has revealed some financial advisers at Commonwealth Bank of Australia charged clients fees for no service including one client who had been dead for 10 years.

AMP was also outed for lying to the regulator which resulted in its chief executive and board chair resigning.

The commission's initial report is due out at the end of September.