ASIC not up to product intervention - lawyer

31 July 2015

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) does not have the culture or the expertise to administer product intervention powers, according to specialist financial services lawyer, Peter Bobbin.

Bobbin told a panel session at the Money Management Platforms & Wraps Conference at Magenta Shores, that he believed the handing of product intervention powers to ASIC would prove problematic as it was currently structured and orientated.

In doing so, Bobbin said that the consequences for ASIC were already manifesting themselves in threatened legal action against the regulator over a failed action against a company.

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However, ASIC commissioner, Greg Tanzer, said he believed the regulator would treat such an intervention power carefully and that it's ability to recognise product problems should not be underestimated.

"We have actually shown that we are pretty good at picking losers," he said "But we acknowledge that it will take specialist knowledge to exercise the power."

Tanzer earlier told the conference that ASIC was intervening much more often than was commonly recognised via actions such as stop orders.

On the question of research and the manner in which it impacted financial product, Tanzer said research was only as good as its independence and thoroughness.

For his part, Morningstar's Head of Fund Research, Asia Pacific, Grant Kennaway, said it needed to be recognised that good research was a high cost, labour-intensive exercise.

In doing so, he pointed to recent commentary around research within IOOF which he said appeared to be suffering from resourcing issues.

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