As the royal commission smashed the reputations of major financial institutions this week, there was understandable focus on the individuals involved and the inherently flawed structure of vertically integrated wealth management. "Fee for no service" -- the charging of customers for services banks and AMP had no intention of ever providing -- is only the most recent of a long list of consequences of the major institutions' involvement in financial planning and wealth management. But understanding AMP and the Commonwealth Bank's systematic ripping off of customers and their equally systematic role in trying to hide it from the regulator, as purely the result of individual venality and a corporate structure that incentivised it, can mislead.
I'm a bit like a broken record on this, but it's crucial to understand the sort of outcomes exposed by the royal commission as the result of an entire policy system, otherwise any response risks treating the symptoms rather than the cause. As anyone with a rash will tell you, treating symptoms is quite important, but they'll simply recur without seeing the underlying causes.