Brokers called on to help raise standard of property investment advice

by Mackenzie McCarty22 Jan 2013

The Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA) has announced a strategy to raise the professional standard of property investment advice and is calling on mortgage brokers, among others, to help.

PIPA chairman, Ben Kingsley, says the association is calling on all professional practitioners – including mortgage brokers, financial planners, accountants and estate agents – to ‘join forces and increase the professionalism’ of the property investment industry.

“There are more than 80,000 professionals, employed either directly or indirectly within the property investment industry, giving opinions and advice to consumers. However, our figures indicate that less than 1% of those are actually formally qualified to offer direct property investment advice.”

Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL)’s annual report says it’s had to deal with complaints from consumers given bad property investment advice.

“We are investigating a number of complaints about Australian Credit Licensees who operate mortgage broking, investment property advice and real estate businesses under separate but related corporate entities.”

MFAA CEO, Phil Naylor, says he understands what PIPA’s getting at and that the MFAA supports the proposition.

“Property investment advice is unregulated and PIPA is lobbying to have it regulated – we would support them on that.  In the meantime, they are encouraging people involved in property investment advice to undertake PIPA’s own qualification.  If that helps to ensure there is a better standard of property investment advice to consumers, that is to be commended.”

Naylor says mortgage brokers providing property investment advice (qualified or not) need to be careful there is no conflict of interest between the provision of property investment advice and the provision of credit advice.

Kingsley agrees, noting that, unlike the areas of financial planning, real estate and mortgage broking, the provision of property investment advice continues to be unregulated – and says anyone can offer an investment opinion.

 “PIPA will continue to lobby the Australian government to regulate the property investment industry – and this is top of our agenda in 2013. But in the meantime, we’re calling on members of the industry to work together to protect our reputation and help consumers seek out qualified professionals who have both the educational and ethical standards required to provide quality advice on property.”

Kingsley says that, as one of the most common investment selections among Australians, the fact that property remains an unregulated asset class is ‘ludicrous’.

“Australians deserve accurate property investment advice and a directory of appropriately qualified professionals they can trust.”

Over the coming months, PIPA will be undertaking a process calling on professionals – including mortgage brokers - to up-skill or obtain recognition for their skills, and become a Qualified Property Investment Adviser (QPIA).

PIPA will also ‘ramp up’ its presence within the public domain and provide its members with a greater ‘voice’ through increased media and advertising activities, promoting the benefits of seeking out a qualified professional to consumers.

“Those who have the QPIA accreditation can not only claim to be ethical, qualified practitioners; they will have a significant head start when it comes to attracting new enquiries.”