September Update: Connections, Conduct and Coding

Smarter compliance. We live in interesting times. While many participants are intimidated by the Royal Commission and ASIC’s Report 594, we just kept coding to ensure that OpenAFSL continues to deliver on its promise. We crushed it in September. The full list of tweaks, enhancements and innovations would overwhelm you but, in this article, we’ll cover some of the main ones.

Read More
Adviser Q&A: Product Replacement

Smarter compliance. Good advice, as Sean Graham explains, demands solutions driven by the clients’ best interests and supported by the adviser’s bona fide consideration of alternatives. Very poor advice, in my experience, often fails to prioritise the clients’ interests. Poor advice, on the hand, often results from a failure to rigorously, efficiently or fairly considering options. The safe harbour steps require advisers to research products they’re recommending as replacements (and those they’re recommending to be replaced) but some advisers still struggle with the requirement. This article answers some of the questions we get from advisers on product replacement.

Read More
Always on my mind: Licensees' approach to breach reporting

The Banking Royal Commission quickly and easily exposed profound and systemic non-compliance with the breach reporting obligations. Breach reporting may be "an important part of the regulatory framework" but the Commission’s hearings (and the Interim Report) show that, “on more than one occasion”, Licensees materially failed to comply with this obligation. Worryingly, they appeared to have suffered no consequences as a result of their failures. ASIC’s Report 594 on compliance with the breach reporting obligations highlights the extent of, and reasons for these failures. This article looks at three key take-outs for Licensees seeking to avoid regulatory censure.

Read More
Compliance, Culture and Compliance Culture

Smarter compliance. Despite their focus on conduct and disclosure, Regulators are increasingly turning their attention to licensees’ ‘culture’. It’s a reasonable approach if one ignores the reality that the definition is circular and that organisational culture is not monolithic; most large institutions are collections of disparate and disconnected cultures. Nevertheless, Regulators show no sign of abandoning this idea, so Licensees must consider how they can best demonstrate a ‘good culture’ and their commitment to key principles. Drawing on international examples, this article proposes ways in which this can be done.

Read More
“Welcome to McDonalds”: Five Take-outs for advisers

NSG v ASIC aside, financial planners often struggle to find cases that clearly address their legal obligations and duties. Thankfully, McDonald v AMP Financial Planning Pty Limited [2018] QSC 195 addresses both the practice and process of financial planning and, as a consequence, highlights expectations that advisers need to adequately consider in their own businesses. Here we look at five key take-outs from McDonald’s case.

Read More
Curated Content: Ignorance, hope and HODL

CURATED CONTENT: Despite the provocative nature of this article, we don’t have a particular view on Bitcoin, Ethereum and the various ICOs that attract investors’ attention. While we’re happy to skewer the more pretentious and ridiculous views, we have “strong opinions, loosely held” on cryptocurrencies. Given that advisers and investors are still intrigued by cryptocurrency, we’ve identified five sources that we find are particularly useful.

Read More
August Addendum: Algorithms, admissions and enhancements

Smarter compliance. We’ve been thinking about you. Well, mostly about coding, ASIC and behavioural change, but also about you. We thought you might like to learn 20 ways to improve your compliance result, understand what changes have been made and get advance notice on the changes that are imminent. If you have questions try kye@assuredsupport.com.au or help@assuredsupport.com.au.

Read More
Compliance Reviews: Livin' on a prayer

Smarter compliance. For over ten years, in various iterations, we've worked hard to develop a credible and fact-based alternative to institutional box-ticking. Abandoning the bureaucracy and arbitrary classifications so loved by institutional licensees, we pioneered reg-tech and built a consistent and predictable risk and conduct-based methodology that embeds transparency, comparability and granularity. We appreciate that the "sweet science" of compliance is not for everyone, but everyone can benefit from a little more knowledge. Addressing three "key myths" might not change your life, but it might provide the context and reassurance you need. 

Read More
Adviser Reviews: You can be the best

One of the most surprising insights from completing hundreds of adviser reviews, is the relatively small number of advisers who are interested in moving 'beyond compliance'. The challenge is compounded by risk. Some licensees use compliance results as part of a balanced scorecard or as the basis for bonuses and promotion. So improving the quality of advice, and getting a better review result, has additional benefits. Assured Support's risk and conduct-based methodology expects compliance and rewards quality, so to help make your journey a little easier, we'll share seven steps you should take to achieve better review results. 

Read More
Understanding compliance: The soundtrack

Most compliance people go through life with a song in their hearts and we’re no different (except are hearts and heads are stuffed with tangentially relevant pop music). Because no-one demanded it, we've made our playlist available to everyone. Our playlist contains every song referenced in our articles - even those you might not have identified. Enjoy the playlist and, if you find songs that we've omitted to include, please let us know.

Read More
The writing’s on the wall: ASIC enforcement and focus

With the first half of the year now behind us, ASIC have recently released REP 585 (ASIC enforcement outcomes: January to June 2018). It highlights their activity in early 2018 (focusing on some notable successes) and looks forward to hint at what we can expect from them in the next six months. This article focuses on the report, ASIC’s plans for the remainder of 2018 and what they mean for Licensees and advisers.

Read More
Design and Distribution Obligations: Better get a lawyer

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Design and Distribution Obligations and Product Intervention Powers) Bill 2018 may represent the most significant reform of financial services since the Financial Services Reform Act. The Bill threatens to reframe the development, distribution and enforcement of financial products and equips ASIC with a range of new enforcement options.This presentation provides a high level introduction to the Bill.

Read More
And another thing, I've been wondering, lately

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has identified so many cultural, ethical and management failures that vertical dis-integration, Product Intervention Powers, BEAR and the imposition of Principal Integrity Officers are needed to restore trust. Ignoring current and proposed "regulatory catalysts", I'd suggest that re-defining 'Compliance' is a critical step to restoring trust and creating transparency and accountability.

Read More
August Update: Ready to Spring

If you're focused on the future, and want to build a sustainable advice business, you'll want to find out more about openAFSL. You know that “minimal or technical compliance with the law” is not a worthwhile pursuit and, as a competent Licensee, you understand that regulatory technology is critical to you achieving that goal. OpenAFSL is the flexible and intuitive platform you need. Here’s why.

Read More
ASIC and the limits of disclosure

Licensees and advisers have traditionally relied on disclosure as the solution for a range of regulatory, advice and legal risks. The fundamental problem is that disclosure is a spectacularly ineffective consumer protection mechanism. In the context of the Banking Royal Commission, both the Government and ASIC are focusing on trust, transparency and accountability as better alternatives to disclosure and equipping ASIC with the powers it needs to be active, feared and effective. In this context, the course of action for licensees and advisers is clear - less disclosure, more clarity.

Read More
MDA Providers: Time for action

If you're an AFSL that wants to continue to operate as an "MDA Provider" and you don't already have the required authorisations, you'll need to have your licence varied. Assuming you're already authorised to advise and deal, you'll need to apply to vary your AFSL. Submitting the application for a variation isn't too difficult but remember that your application needs to be true, correct and complete (and supported by all the required mandatory information and proof documentation). This article curates the relevant material for you to consider and outlines five steps you should take now.

Read More
ASIC, Distribution and Product Intervention

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Design and Distribution Obligations and Product Intervention Powers) Bill 2018 may represent the most significant reform of financial services since the Financial Services Reform Act. The Bill threatens to reframe the development, distribution and enforcement of financial products and equips ASIC with a range of new enforcement options.This presentation provides a high level introduction to the Bill.

Read More
Anticipating ASIC: Get your house in order

In his recent speech “The trust deficit and superannuation, ASIC Chair James Shipton suggested three issues that Licensees need to address to restore trust and confidence in the financial services industry.

This post explores those suggestions in context, and outlines some practical steps Licensees should take in anticipation of future ASIC activity.

Take the time now to get your house in order.

Read More
The challenges of growth: recruitment and reference checking

As a Licensee, you operate in a commercial environment subject to a range of legal, moral and social obligations. You, and the advisers you authorise, routinely act and make decisions that can significantly impact the lives and circumstances of your clients. As focused as you may be on growth, you need to discriminate; you cannot simply recruit without investigating, and assessing, the people you propose to authorise. Nor can you simply make a decision on the basis of information you have at hand or that offered to you by the potential recruit. This article outlines some practical ways to manage recruitment risks and access to some tools that might assist you.

Read More