Australia

Topic: Financial advice

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Government response to the Financial System Inquiry

Government releases its Response to FSI Final Report. The Australian Government has released its Response to last December’s Final Report of the Financial System Inquiry or ‘Murray Inquiry’. The Government appears to have accepted almost all of the Inquiry’s recommendations and has also proposed additional measures that are consistent with the Murray Inquiry’s underlying philosophy. … Continue Reading

“User pays” funding model for ASIC: the first step towards a bigger, bolder regulator gets Government backing

The Government has given its support to a “user pays” industry funding model for ASIC in line with the recommendations of the Financial System Inquiry (FSI). A consultation paper has been issued today by Assistant Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, detailing how the funding model will work. The new funding model will require the biggest users of … Continue Reading

Digital Currency Regulation – Australian Senate Recommendations

The Australian Senate Economics Reference Committee released its long-awaited report into the digital currencies on 4 August 2015. Digital currencies and blockchain technology is hot news. For many, the blockchain sensation is reminiscent of the early days of the internet.  We have even seen trialling of blockchain technology and some bitcoin sector investment by Australian … Continue Reading

Financial Services Tomorrow…

We are on the cusp of a new era in the evolution of the financial services industry. New technology, data analytics and behavioural economics are promising to revolutionise the customer experience. If the regulators remove the regulatory barriers, then using multi-media to deliver mandated and voluntary disclosure in different formats and through different devices will … Continue Reading

Regulatory disruption

Technology led innovation can cause much indigestion for conduct and prudential regulators as they try to find the right regulatory pigeion hole for innovators in their regimes that were not built to handle such innovation.  It is this disruptive impact of innovation that is shaping the regulation of tomorrow. Numerous conduct regulators around the world have acknowledged that a mandatory … Continue Reading

Innovation and Disruption

Financial Institution Symposium  Technology-led innovation has the potential to truly disrupt existing business models and distribution channels in the financial services industry. In Australia and more broadly, we have seen start-ups build innovative payment systems, peer-to-peer lending platforms, crypto-currencies, robo-advice and automated investment management. However, the large institutions are well capitalised, have large customer bases … Continue Reading

Court finds unconscionable conduct in sale of CCI

Recent enforcement action by ASIC against collapsed payday lender, the Cash Store Pty Ltd (TCS), has put the sale of consumer credit insurance (CCI) into sharp focus. On 19 February 2015, the Federal Court awarded penalties against TCS and its loan funder, Assistive Finance Australia Pty Ltd (AFA) of almost $19 million. It found that … Continue Reading

ASIC enforcement actions Q4 2014: is an increase in penalties on the cards?

ASIC has recently released its quarterly enforcement report detailing enforcement outcomes between 1 July 2014 and 31 December 2014.  The report addresses the range of criminal and civil action taken by the regulator, and highlights action taken against companies and directors resulting in criminal charges which were most significant during the period. In addition, significant … Continue Reading

ASIC not content with home and contents insurance

A spate of natural disasters in recent years has revealed a concerning level of underinsurance in the home and contents insurance market, according to reports released by ASIC in late 2014. ASIC has called on insurance providers ‘to implement measures that will meaningfully improve consumers’ understanding of their policy, and help ensure consumers buy a … Continue Reading

FSI Consumer Protection Recommendation 26: Insurance disclosure tools and calculators

The FSI referred to studies undertaken after natural disasters revealing inadvertent underinsurance due to consumers struggling to make an informed decision about the sum insured.  Survey results highlight that even when consumers take the time to read insurance documentation, including the product disclosure statement, many misunderstand it, scan it briefly due to over-reliance on sales … Continue Reading

FSI Consumer Protection Recommendation 25: Raising the competency of advisers

The FSI has recommended that the competency of financial advice providers be raised and an enhanced register of advisers introduced.  The Government is currently considering mechanisms to raise minimum education requirements for financial advisers and the FSI recommends that this be prioritised. The FSI found that the minimum standards are currently too low which affects … Continue Reading

FSI Consumer Protection Recommendation 24 : Aligning with the interests of consumers

The FSI identified the need to better align the interests of financial services providers with those of consumers to ensure better consumer outcomes. The following strategies have been recommended to address some underlying issues: Raising standards of conduct and levels of professionalism: This aims to address concerns regarding organisational cultures that do not focus on … Continue Reading

FSI Consumer Protection Recommendation 22: Product intervention powers

The FSI has recommended that ASIC be granted a product intervention power to enable it to take a more proactive approach to reducing the risk of significant detriment to consumers.  Specifically, this new power would allow the regulator to intervene to require or impose: amendments to marketing and disclosure material; warnings to consumers, and labelling … Continue Reading

FSI Consumer Protection Recommendation 21: A targeted and principles-based product design and distribution obligation

The FSI shares concerns raised by ASIC that consumers are buying products that do not match their needs. The existing regulatory framework relies heavily on disclosure, financial advice and financial literacy. However, disclosure can be ineffective for a number of reasons, such as complexity of documents and misaligned interests. The FSI also considers that current … Continue Reading

Product governance and a proactive, interventionist regulator: the consumer protection recommendations of the Financial Systems Inquiry

The release of the final report of the Financial Systems Inquiry (FSI) brings us a step closer to a significant shift in conduct regulation in Australia.  As we have previously reported, Australia seems set to join a UK and European trend away from regulation driven by disclosure  towards an approach where product providers bear the responsibility … Continue Reading

The Murray Inquiry – Technology and cybersecurity

As with the Murray Inquiry’s Interim Report, the Final Report highlights cyber security and technology related fraud risks as an emerging trend for the financial services industry that presents many challenges. At the forefront of the risks that arise is the rapid pace of technological change that is occurring within the financial system and how … Continue Reading

The Murray Inquiry – Innovation, Technology and Regulators

The Murray Inquiry’s Final Report strongly endorsed facilitating innovation in the financial services industry and technology neutral approach to regulation of financial services providers. The Report recommends the establishment of a permanent public–private sector collaborative committee, the ‘Innovation Collaboration’, to facilitate financial system innovation. This is similar to the ‘Innovation Hub’ initiative by the UK’s … Continue Reading

The Murray Inquiry – Superannuation

The Murray Inquiry’s Final Report was a mixed bag for the super industry, with some recommendations going some way toward addressing the needs of industry and consumers but with many of the hard decisions left for another day and another review. Improving efficiency The Inquiry clearly has reservations about the effectiveness of the Stronger Super … Continue Reading

The Murray Inquiry – Primary themes

The Murray Inquiry asserts that Australia’s financial system has performed well since the Wallis Inquiry and has many strong characteristics.  But it also has a number of weaknesses: taxation and regulatory settings distort the flow of funding to the real economy; it remains susceptible to financial shocks; superannuation is not delivering retirement incomes efficiently; unfair consumer … Continue Reading

The Final Report of the Murray Inquiry

On Sunday 7 December 2014 the Federal Treasurer, Mr Joe Hockey, released the Final Report of the Financial System Inquiry (or ‘Murray Inquiry’ after its Chair, David Murray) having received it at the end of November in accordance with the Terms of Reference.   The Inquiry was established by the Treasurer in December 2013 to review … Continue Reading

ASIC works with industry on digital disclosure

After recently releasing a consultation paper aimed at facilitating innovative financial services disclosure (see our previous blog), ASIC has announced a joint industry project to develop such innovative disclosure. As part of the project, ASIC will work with AMP and Vanguard to develop and user-test a short, online ‘key facts’ sheet and a self-assessment tool … Continue Reading
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