ASIC grants three advice relief measures

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced three temporary relief measures to help consumers receive affordable and timely financial advice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASIC said the three relief measures were:

  • Relief to facilitate advice about early access to superannuation;
  • Relief to extend the timeframe for providing time-critical statements of advice (SOAs); and
  • Relief to enable a record of advice (ROA) to be given in certain circumstances.

Under the advice for early access to super, ASIC said it had:

  • Allowed advice providers not to give a SOA to clients when providing advice about early access to superannuation;
  • Permitted registered tax agents to give advice to existing clients about early access to superannuation without needing to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence; and
  • Issued a temporary no-action position for superannuation trustees to expand the scope of personal advice that may be provided by, or on behalf of, the superannuation trustee as ‘intra-fund advice’.  (Intra-fund advice is provided free of charge to the recipient of the advice.)
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ASIC noted its relief and no-action position were temporary and subject to the important conditions, including:

  • Clients must be provided with a ROA which meets certain content requirements. An ROA is a shorter, simpler document that sets out the advice that is being provided;
  • The advice fee, if any, is capped at $300;
  • The advice provider must establish that the client is entitled to the early release of their superannuation; and
  • The client must have approached the advice provider for the advice.

On SOAs, ASIC said to assist advisers meet demand for time-critical advice, it would allow providers up to 30 business days (instead of five) to give an SOA after time-critical advice was provided.

The ROA relief would allow the provision of an ROA to existing clients even though:

  • The clients’ personal circumstances have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • The client sees an adviser from the same AFS licensee or practice, not their original adviser.

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Good luck with that one ASIC. If you are capping the advice fee at $300 you might need to start employing your own government employed salaried financial advisers to give this advice coz I doubt many advisers (if any) can do it for the price.

The whole ROA regime needs to be reviewed to allow additional advice to be given to clients quickly and easily regardless of whether their circumstances have changed "significantly". If a client contacts you asking for options to reduce the cost of their income protection cover, it really shouldn't matter whether they've had a baby since your last SOA or have paid $50k off their mortgage, you should be able to give them the options and the quotes, file note it and move on. Instead you must create a new fact find document, which needs to be signed off on by the client, and then you trot off and produce a new SOA, which the client doesn't read anyway. It's madness.

Perhaps once we're all highly educated and ethical professionals they'll consider allowing a simple advice regime that is affordable for everyone.

Its a shame Australians can only have access to timely and affordable advice during a global oandemic. shouldnt they have it all the time?

So if a registered tax agent gives the advice, the fee will be tax deductible, but when a planner or intra fund adviser gives the advice, will the fee be deductible?

Couldn't see how it could be tax deductible when it relates only to superannuation advice.

Hmm.. An interesting development. Fee capping has commenced.

Will be lots of advice for other things, but not for Early Release of super.

So registered tax agents dont need to give a roa as no afsl. Superfunds get to have a personal advice exemption as its "free" advice. We need to provide a roa though and all the work that entails with new fasea requirements, and all for under $300. However our dealerships paraplanning service say that a roas costs lots more than that. So we are supposed to lose money? Another masterstroke from asic. Is everything they do just to spite us? You would think we would have a bit more respect what with paying thier wages

Tax agents must also provide a RoA, and according to the legislative instrument - it must comply with the information that would, if a Statement of Advice were to be given, be required to be in the Statement by paragraphs 947B(2)(d) and (e) of the Act, or 947C(2)(e) and (f) of the Act, as the case requires. How many tax agents know what that means, and what they must do ???

Write it yourself. It's really not difficult.

Are you serious cri? You cant just write a roa yourself the dealership would report you to asic if you dont use thier templates . You know how much research needs to be on file even just for a roa? Strategy file note, fact find, best interest checlist, reporting, alternatives. This is about 3 hours work already. Id be interested to know if you are a planner how long it takes you to do a roa in keeping with the new fasea standards? Its not easy or simple its the most convoluted process ever.

Totally's easily a minimum 3 - 4 hour process to "Cover Thy Butt" from ASIC's "Why Not Litigate" mantra and those voracious vexatious litigation lawyers standing at the ready to have a crack at Advisers PI insurance. Lawyers hourly fee is min $400 p.h.......Accountants min $300 they expect Financial Advisers to do this for $300 in total or $75 p.h. ??? Just Saying !

Some fair points, however bear in mind that dealer group compliance requirements are not the same as ASIC's requirements. Dealer groups have many extra layers of compliance that are not legally required. They do this to protect themselves from errors and oversights that are harder to keep track of in big organisations , and from the rogue advisers they tolerate who are "big writers" of the dealer group's inhouse products. The advisers who get put through the wringer and are sacrificed to ASIC on a technicality, are typically those who haven't sold enough inhouse products.

If you became self licensed, or joined a small independent licensee, I think you would find it easier to do business.

I am part of a independent small dealership with under 200 planners, one that dosen't have massive PI hikes each year as they are a safe compliant business. The extra work we now need to do is required by law due to the new code of ethics that we all need to abide by. It seems you are in the past talking about the large bank owned dealerships that were around, they are gone, the only big dealerships selling their own product now are amp and the industry fund owned ones.

I wouldn't call 200 small. And if your dealer group uses inhouse SMAs, or platforms with a "Licensee Service fee", or an inhouse SMSF administration service, then they are far from independent. Once a licensee gets down to 10 advisers or less with no inhouse product, that's when everything becomes a lot simpler. Perhaps not as lucrative, but simpler.

dealer group compliance might not be required but by god and thank god they make us do so much extra work as you are dealing with an incompetent regulator and an ombudsman who doesn't have to follow the law or rules of evidence or precedent or anything else. they just have to look at the case in front of them and decide whether it was fair and reasonable. it's never going to be in favour of a financial planner. EVER.

I am happy for the long SoA's, I would not want to be in a situation with short and concise SoA's, make them longer, and use every disclaimer possible allowed within the law that doesn't contravene the law to protect yourself.

a lot of advisers are calling for to do away with SoA's, that will be the day I quit as it means more scumbag lawyers trying to suck our blood.

at least right now there are virtually no complaints that can stand up to financial planners.

we need to get even more and longer SoA's. they cannot say we gave too many warnings and covered every potential scenario.

make SoA's double the length to at least 500 pages.

"The advice fee, if any, is capped at $300" they expect it to be done at "our cost" in certain situations?

Providing advice to have your fee capped and make a loss.... ASIC provide assistance to other "advice" providers, yet Advisers still get stuck with an ROA and all the FASEA crap it entails. How do you get around the "no significant change" rule to use a ROA (significant changes unrelated the the Pandemic)?

Outstanding Work ASIC.

On another note - why does it take a Pandemic for ASIC to make changes to advice rules?

So basically, ASIC is allowing Industry Funds to stop as many withdrawals as possible under the cover of "free" Intra Fund Advice. Since when is it free and is it misleading to suggest it is free?

This is ASIC now controlling and capping advice fees.....irrespective of how much work or how many hours will be the remuneration will not be commensurate to the advisers are getting crucified by ASIC once again.
This is no gift from fact, this makes it worse for advisers because now clients will avoid approaching advisers even for a $300 fee because they are anxious, stressed, losing money, jobs, and security and all they want is some scoped or scaled advice.
Can you imagine having to sit down with a client and go though everything that really needs to be done at this point in their lives when they have been a client for 5-10 years and they trust you and they know that you already are aware of their circumstances.
By ASIC placing a $300 fee limit on this advice, ASIC well know that virtually no adviser will be giving advice for that fee and the client will simply go straight to their super fund who will direct them to the ATO for nothing and they will make their own mind up.
What adviser in their right mind is going to put their arse on the line for $300 when in 5 years time they come back to say the advice was not correct because it had long term impacts to their retirement income.
The actual cost of the advice is more like $3000 because of the ridiculous red tape and compliance requirements and who is going to pay $3000 for advice to get their hands on $10,000 of superannuation monies ???
ASIC have simply placed a ridiculously low limit because they know the advisers will not be able to do it and for those that do, it will be easy pickings at a later date.
This is simply smoke and mirrors.
When a client asks if they should access their super now, either hand them the phone no. for the ATO or act the whole advice process out in charades.
What a joke.

Why all the carry on about this $300 fee cap. If you have an existing client who asks you whether they should be accessing their super early, wouldn't you already have enough info on file to be able to give them verbal advice over the phone and then you do the ROA after that, with no need to even send it to them. If you're already charging an ongoing fee to the client then this type of advice should be included. If they pay an adhoc fee, then charge them $'d be a 10 minute phone call and maybe half an hour to push out a 2 page ROA. There's no need for product comparisons or anything time consuming. If they're clients you've never met before don't even consider it, direct them to their super fund or the treasury info sheet, it's not worth the risk.

I now several accounting firms jumping on this because they never get audited by anyone. If you're an adviser Just tell em to sell the JetSki....or sell the 2019 SUV. Maybe the best advice some people might get is an important life lesson. Far Too Risky to provide this advice. 6 years to make a complaint, FASEA, and the author of this article forgot to mention that ASIC will be monitoring and reviewing the advice provided by authorised reps. So that's a box ticking exercise and one, just one little box not ticked and your $%%^#%^..... Not to mention the licensee. So that means, under the current regime, a spelling mistake will result in you going directly to jail. Not worth it. Leave it to the Accountants, they never get audited.

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