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.)
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.