Posts in Editor's Picks
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.

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Review and remediation: "make it right"

Monitoring and Supervision, Consequence Management and Remediation are three elements of a compliance framework that best highlight, or expose, a Licensee’s capability and competence. Not only do they reveal fundamental aspects of a Licensee’s organisational competence but, more importantly, they expose its values, principles and standards.

This article examines explores ASIC’s views and provides tips for better results.

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Once more unto the breach (register), dear friends, once more

The Royal Commission has highlighted some curious processes followed by some of the larger licensees. Their laidback approach to breach reporting, in particular, has attracted the type of attention they might otherwise preferred to avoid. Breach reporting isn’t that difficult to grasp, but perhaps everyone needs a little help from time to time.

This post covers the key things you need to know and the What, Why, How and When of breach reporting.

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"Giving hostages to fortune": Licensees, Advisers and the ties that bind them

Francis Bacon wrote “He that hath [a Licensee] has given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief” or at least he would have had he been entertained by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. This article explores the acts and omissions of Licensees and the challenges facing licensees and advisers as a result of the Commission’s scrutiny of the financial services industry.

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"We don't need no education": Reflections on competency, training and education

The popular view of acceptable 'training and education' for financial advice professionals seems to increase with each new licensee failure and public scandal. 

While most advisers admit the initial base was quite low,  expectations have increased dramatically. Now, with new education standards looming on the horizon, the landscape of financial advice looks to change forever.

This is a great outcome for the emerging advice profession.

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AFCA: Old wine in a new bottle?

The central plank of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Consumers First – Establishment of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority) Bill 2017 (‘the AFCA Bill’) is the establishment of a single not-for-profit external dispute resolution (EDR) body with a broad jurisdiction. This new super-EDR will hear complaints against financial institutions including Australian Financial Services Licensees, credit providers and credit representatives, superannuation funds (other than self-managed superannuation funds), approved deposit funds, life insurers and general insurers. The ABA thinks it's a great idea but I have some reservations. 

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Don't look back in anger: Insights from a former adviser

In reality, financial planners and compliance reviewers have more in common than they realise; both understand the value of advice and both are committed to building an advice profession. I know this to be true because I've done both roles. Here are the lessons I learnt when transitioning from financial advice to regulatory advice and compliance. Don't look back in anger.

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The risks of risk profiling

Risk profiling is a foundation element of most financial planning processes but explaining to a client the consequences of their risk assessment is much more critical than the assessment process itself. In fact, we believe this discussion is crucial to securing a client’s informed consent. Whatever assessment process you follow to determine their 'risk profile', you should assess embrace context, test your assumptions and confirm your clients’ preparedness to lose capital and sacrifice potential income. This article explains why.

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Trust, Culture and Enforcement

On 12 September 2017, ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft presented at the Thomson Reuters Newsmaker event and articulated his view that ASIC is primarily an enforcement body responsible for promoting investor trust and confidence in financial services. With reference to the ongoing actions involving Commonwealth Bank, NAB and a range of smaller licensees, the Chairman discussed ASIC's priorities and addressed a variety of topics including trust, reputation and culture. This article explores the reasons, consequences and implications of those views. 

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Appropriate, and better, risk advice.

Struggling to understand how to recognise 'appropriate' risk advice? Worried whether reasonable advice  meets the best interest duty? This article tackles these ideas and argues that appropriateness doesn't require an adviser to provide perfect or ideal advice. Nor does it require the adviser to provide the highest level of care. 'Appropriate advice' is fit for purpose and based on the risk professional's consideration of their client's relevant personal circumstances. 

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What is “independent advice”?

The increased public focus on vertical integration and the dangers of institutional advice has, understandably, driven an increasing focus on independent advice. The challenge, for both consumers and advisers, is that “independence” is neither consistently nor effectively defined. This article considers whether "Independence" and "institutional alignment" can co-exist and asks whether the profession needs to define independence on the basis of outcomes rather than structures.  

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The Limitations of disclosure

If the purpose of disclosure is to ensure that clients make informed and considered decisions about the recommendations presented to them then disclosure is an inelegant and inadequate solution. This article explores the limitations of disclosure and the practical alternative embraced by advice professionals.

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