Australia

ASIC/IOSCO Chairman supports blockchain innovation

Greg Medcraft made some very encouraging impromptu comments at the COALA/CBA Blockchain Workshops conference in Sydney on 10 December that are consistent with the renewed push to facilitate technology-led innovation in Australia. Mr Medcraft indicated that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is willing to support the modification of Australian law to the extent … Continue Reading

Australian health and life insurers race into wearable technology

Just as telematics has been supplementing motor vehicle insurance underwriting, Australia’s health and life insurance markets are embracing innovative technologies in the form of “wearables”. Underwriters traditionally rely on pre-policy questionnaires and proposal forms to assess risk and set the terms of cover they will accept; however, the information that can be obtained provides only … Continue Reading

APRA’s proposed new securitisation rules: some wins for the industry

APRA’s discussion paper and proposed new APS 120 provide some welcome clarification and concessions for Australian market participants.  Released on Thursday 26 November 2015, the proposals will be open for comment until 1 March 2016.  The proposed effective date for these rules in 1 January 2018. Amongst the more important proposals are: De-facto master trust … Continue Reading

Financial System Inquiry (FSI) – Government Response: hidden pitfalls for insurance brokers and underwriting agencies?

The Government’s response to the FSI contains both good and bad news for insurers and brokers One issue of concern is the proposal that ASIC must approve all changes in control of AFS Licensees.  This will significantly expand such regulatory oversight beyond authorised insurers to a multitude of insurance brokers and underwriting agencies. The good … Continue Reading

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

ASIC “on the cusp of change” as organisational culture becomes a key focus of the regulator

The release of ASIC’s corporate plan for the coming three years marks the beginning of a new era of conduct regulation in Australia; one in which organisations may face enforcement action for having a culture that is not adequately consumer-centric or for taking advantage of consumer biases which lead to poor consumer decision making. We … 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

Officers should face civil sanctions for poor firm culture, says ASIC

ASIC continues to reshape its approach to enforcement, with the focus on disclosure having shifted sharply in the last year to a focus on delivering better consumer outcomes. In the last 12 months, we have been discussing ASIC’s use of behavioural economic theory and the spectre of UK regulation that underpins ASIC’s drive towards product … 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

Global corporate governance standards for banks – Australian perspectives

On 8 July the Basel Committee (BIS) issued a paper setting out 13 corporate governance principles for banks. These principles supersede the 2010 BIS principles and are to be applied and adapted by national bank regulators as they see fit.  This work has been some time in the making with a peer review conducted by … Continue Reading

Privilege and internal investigations

Conducting investigations into allegations of regulatory breaches, fraud or corruption can present serious legal and commercial risk if privilege cannot be asserted over the findings of those investigations. That risk may be compounded if boards choose to conduct such investigations in-house, often with compliance managers or in-house counsel reporting the findings of those investigations directly … Continue Reading

Italy and the Netherlands join the blog

Our Regulation tomorrow blog goes from strength to strength, with the addition of Italy and the Netherlands to our existing coverage of Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.  EU-level updates will also be featured on our Italian, Dutch and UK pages. New blog posts from Italy and the Netherlands include: Italy: … Continue Reading

New ‘Significant Investor’ Visa regime

The new framework for the Significant Investor (SIV) and Premium Investor (PIV) programmes has now been implemented and is effective from 1 July 2015. The SIV programme provides the opportunity for foreign persons to obtain an Australian visa by investing at least AUD$5 million over four years in complying Australian investments. In order to comply … Continue Reading

Insurers “strongly encouraged” to improve disclosure of prudential matters

On 22 June 2015, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released a letter to all Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of general insurers, Level 2 insurance groups and life companies (collectively, the insurers) encouraging them to adopt better public disclosure practices for prudential matters. The current capital adequacy framework for insurers is based on a three … Continue Reading

Credit cards to improve travel insurance disclosure

Credit card providers have agreed to provide customers with clearer information regarding when ‘complimentary’ travel insurance is activated and to what extent cover is provided. Many credit card holders have access to ‘complimentary’ travel insurance. However, many of these do not know that they have the benefit of cover, how to activate it, how it … Continue Reading

Super fraud – APRA releases guidance on prevention and response

On 10 June 2015, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released the final version of its Superannuation Prudential Practice Guide SPG 223 – Fraud Risk Management (SPG 223) following consultation with industry conducted in October 2014. As with other prudential practice guides released by APRA, SPG 223 is a non-binding document which sets out APRA’s … Continue Reading

General insurance distributors breathe sigh of relief

In a move likely to be welcomed by the general insurance industry, ASIC has proposed to maintain the relief provided for distributors of general insurance products. A few short years after the introduction of the new financial services regime in Chapter 7 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), ASIC began to appreciate the special nature … Continue Reading

Reinsurance in a world of natural disasters

With the flood of recent natural disasters, APRA has clarified the type of aggregate reinsurance arrangements that require its approval.  Accordingly, it is timely for insurers to review their reinsurance arrangements to determine whether such approval is required. In recent years, Australia and New Zealand have amply demonstrated their propensity for catastrophic losses flowing from … Continue Reading

Financial Institutions Symposium hosted by Norton Rose Fulbright in Sydney

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 and are adapting … 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-run home insurance comparison website opens for business

The Federal Government’s novel approach to tackling housing insurance affordability issues in North Queensland continued this week with the unveiling of ASIC’s home insurance comparison website. Replete with disclaimers and emphasising product features over policy price, the website is intended to aid consumer understanding and decrease underinsurance in a market struggling under flood and wind … Continue Reading
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