Calls for ASIC to reveal project aims

The WA Financial Services Forum has written to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) requesting it publish any reports from its Quality of Advice project in the “interests of transparency”.

The forum, representing 15 of the larger Australian Financial Services (AFS) licensees in WA, wants the regulator to “publish any reports, interim or otherwise, created by ASIC’s consultation with financial planning experts and academics in relation to creating guidelines or benchmarks for quality advice” as part of the project.

Forum chairperson Mark Halsey said in the letter to the project’s coordinator, ASIC analyst Chris Anderson, that the “provision of these documents to relevant stakeholders, or the public, was an important part of providing transparency to the Quality of Advice project”.

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Also a specialist financial services lawyer, Halsey said in the letter that the forum’s members were “keen to see the benchmarks that ASIC intends to apply in determining quality advice”.

“I imagine all the licensees would be their intention to embrace the benchmarks that ASIC intends to use and to incorporate them into their procedures.”

Halsey said the forum members decided to make the request following an address to the group earlier this year on the proposed project by ASIC’s WA regional commissioner, Bruce Dodd.

ASIC launched the project on April 24 by sending out a notice — a copy of which is in the possession of Money Management — to a select number of AFS licensees asking them to produce certain information and documents.

This request was issued under section 33 of the ASIC Act 2001 (which provides for significant penalties in the event that any of the selected AFS licensees were reluctant to co-operate).

In the notice, ASIC’s Anderson requested the selected advisers submit a sample of their personal financial product advice to the regulator by no later than May 8 this year.

No mention was made in the notice of the project’s purpose, but it was reported in Money Management last month that ASIC might be on a fact-finding mission to define next year’s shadow shopper survey.

The Money Management article said about 30 dealer groups had been contacted nationally to submit Statements of Advice from their top five advisers.

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