The board of the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) is under pressure to explain why it has resisted engaging with the financial planning industry for nearly two years despite persistent overtures from the major organisations such as the Financial Planning Association and the Association of Financial Advisers.
Questions are being asked about the level of engagement on the part of the board in circumstances where, for the first time, at least some board members were present at last week’s “consultation” around the FASEA code of ethics.
However, it was noted that while some board members were at the consultation alongside at least some ministerial staffers, the chair of FASEA, Catherine Walter, was not present.
FPA chief executive, Dante De Gori has confirmed to Money Management that his organisation had written on numerous occasions to FASEA seeking at least some level of engagement with the board but had on every occasion been referred to the executive.
He said he found the situation puzzling in circumstances where Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) commissioners and members of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) had a long tradition of engagement with the industry.
The level of the FPA’s frustration was evidenced in a recent formal statement over FASEA’s handling of code of ethics guidance when it publicly bemoaned the long period of isolation on the part of the authority’s board.
“After two and a half years, the FASEA Board of Directors has yet to consult with any financial planning professional bodies or their members and they appear to be more interested in academic theory than making a genuine effort to improve standards in the financial planning profession for the benefit of consumers,” the FPA statement said.”
It said that, among other problems, FASEA’s Code clashed with the Government’s Royal Commission Road Map, released only two months ago, and the grandfathered commissions legislation passed by the Parliament two weeks’ earlier.
AFA chief executive, Phil Kewin said his organisation had been similarly declined access to the FASEA board, notwithstanding a former AFA president be a member of the board alongside a former FPA chairman.