The thing about life in Australia is that you get to be like the older sibling to the rest of the world. You know, the one that makes all the mistakes first, so everyone else in the family can (hopefully) learn from their misfortune? Do a quick Google search of “Australia is the canary in the coalmine” and you’ll see what I mean. In addition to climate change, my home could also be a cautionary tale of what could go awry for financial advisors stateside.

In the past five years, the Australian financial advisor workforce shrank by 43%. Thousands of experienced advisors fled the profession, selling their life’s work at fire sale prices or leaving ill-prepared successors to pick up the pieces. High costs, heavy regulatory burdens and fee compression from a general disinterest in financial advice mean that many surviving independent financial advisories run lean, and potentially face higher risks from compliance slip-ups.

So how did we get here? And could this happen to advisors in the U.S.?

Australian advisors are reeling from the one-two punch of superannuation—a compulsory retirement fund, and the banking royal commission reforms—a list of reforms following a 2018 probe into widespread misconduct in the banking and financial services sectors. All were created with good intentions, but their unintended consequences have made it harder to address the problems they were created to solve.

Here’s what I mean. Compulsory, regulated, low-cost investment options for retirement funds should have been a home run. But superannuation has not prevented negative outcomes for Australian retirees. Instead, it has lowered the demand for financial advice and left advisors with fewer discretionary assets to manage.

The banking commission reforms hit advisors with dozens of new regulations along with time- and cost-intensive, mandated education requirements. Older advisors, the ones with decades of institutional knowledge and client relationships, took a hard look at the multi-year training courses demanded of them and decided it was less hassle to just retire early.

Advisors in the U.S. might say, “Adrian, that’s a completely different culture and business climate. That couldn’t happen here.” And surely, Americans would never elect populists who enact ill-conceived policies just to cater to their bases.

What I’m getting at is, you can’t assume the laws and regulations around your duties will stay the same. It’s not a bad bet to expect lawmakers to hold you to higher and higher standards over time. Planning for this as an eventuality makes your business more resilient than hoping state or federal lawmakers ignore you for one more legislative season.

That kind of forethought extends to your fee structure, too. Just like in the U.S., Australian advisors are pivoting to more holistic advice. They learned—the hard way—to add value “above the line.” The less you have to depend on revenue that comes from market performance, the more sustainable your business will be over the long haul.

What if you don’t much care about the long haul, though? What if you’re looking to retire in a few years? It is still in your interests to think about succession, and I worry that too many American advisors aren’t. How are you embedding your client relationships into your business? Who else understands the preferences, goals and human quirks of a household you’ve advised for most of your professional career?

I’ve worked with more than my fair share of advisors who tried to condense a lifetime of client relationships into sticky notes and Word documents. The way you pass the baton doesn’t just matter to your clients and your team, either. Acquirers are paying attention too, and their judgment impacts the value you’re able to command in a sale.

None of this is to say that regulation is uniformly bad. Australia’s sweeping reforms came from the best of intentions and a popular mandate. No one likes corrupt financiers, after all. And I doubt that new laws would be enacted in quite the same way in the U.S. But I don’t doubt that change is inevitable. American advisors are blessed with a culture that expects investors to be more engaged in their financial futures, as well as an early warning from what has happened to Australia’s financial services industry. Whether you’ll heed that warning is entirely in your hands.

Adrian Johnstone is the CEO of Practifi.