ASIC should take a back seat

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The Government and the Treasury, rather than the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), should lead the way in implementing changes to the financial planning industry, according to the chief executive of the Financial Planning Association (FPA), Jo-Anne Bloch.

Speaking in the wake of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services (Ripoll Inquiry), Bloch told Money Management there was a danger ASIC, as a busy regulator with an already heavy workload, would come up with overly complex and costly solutions.

She warned that the last thing the industry needed to flow from the recommendations of the Ripoll Inquiry and the Cooper Review was a repeat of the complexity and costliness that evolved as a result of the implementation of the Financial Services Reform Act (FSRA) nearly a decade ago.

“On that basis we would be hoping that the Government is not taking too much notice of the academics and lawyers who have been seeking to buy into the debate without properly understanding the workings of our industry,” Bloch said.

She said the Ripoll Inquiry recommendations had laid the framework for practical outcomes that did not need to be too complex.

“The industry, in liaison with the Government, is capable of implementing the changes,” Bloch said.

“The last thing we need at the moment is the lawyers, commentators and others trying to repeat what they did with FSRA,” she said.

Bloch said there needed to be a realisation that many of the problems which continued to affect the financial services industry had been borne of the complexity that now surrounded FSRA — a complexity that had been largely owed to academic and legal intrusion into the issue.

She said what was also required from the Government was a set of solid timeframes for the implementation of its policy agenda on financial planning.

“We need some timeframes which are practical and workable,” Bloch said. “The last thing we want is to find the industry being squeezed on what represent key issues.”

The Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law, Chris Bowen, has made clear that the Ripoll recommendations will be considered by the Government in the context of the findings of the Cooper Review into superannuation.

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