Should ASIC have oversight on financial advice label?

The corporate regulator does not believe much difference will be made if it educated media outlets on reports that call people financial advisers when they are not.

During a Parliamentary hearing, Nationals Senator Susan McDonald pointed to a story by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that incorrectly labelled a man as a financial adviser. McDonald asked what oversight ASIC had to protect the industry given the strict regime advisers were held under.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) chief operating officer, Warren Day, said there was no limit on people calling others financial advisers and that a lot of people called themselves financial advisers who were unlicensed.

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“That’s a matter for the ABC… and in relation to the way the ABC refers to a particular person, I don’t know that there’s anything we could add to that,” Day said.

“We’re not saying we won’t look at that and not take action against someone who is providing unlicensed financial advice.

“What I'm saying is how the ABC… refers to a person is not something that I think that we could necessarily do anything other than educate what the rules are to the ABC and I don't think that would make any difference.”

McDonald noted that it could be a starting point to communicate the story was incorrect and that if ASIC did not provide advice to the ABC about financial advisers she was not sure who else would.

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A masseuse can't call themselves a Doctor, Physiotherapist, nor would the media dream of labelling a masseuse as such. ASIC is responsible for promoting a fair, transparent and efficient financial system for all. I'd argue not pointing out to journalists incorrect reporting is unfair and not transparent. It doesn't help the Industry/Profession it oversees.

Yep silly Advisers, you just pay the legal costs to investigate and litigate non financial Advisers on the basis that Real Advisers are being protected.
Yet ASIC refuse to also protect Real Advisers in the media.
Pathetic yet again ASIC.

Nonsense. Under s923C of the Corporations Act, a person cannot (with some exceptions) call themselves a “financial adviser” or “financial planner” unless they are authorised to give personal advice to retail clients on relevant financial products.

Correct David. But sec 923C only applies that restriction to THE PERSON calling themselves a financial adviser or financial planner (and then only in a "retail client" context - the restriction does not even apply in a wholesale client context (sec 923C(3)). There is currently no legal restriction on the media calling any person a financial adviser or financial planner. This is poorly drafted legislation which the Senator can help fix. After all she belongs to a party that makes up the Government benches.

Fair enough, but ASIC could have answered along those lines rather than the glib and generally condescending response offered.

With all the people involved in Parliament, is there anyone who can draft legislation properly?


well, Mr. Day, it does make a difference, using a legally restricted term of "financial planner or adviser" without being appropriately qualified & licensed is illegal conduct. pointing out that fact that, that is, it is against the law DOES make a difference.

I encourage all licensed financial planners to always refer to themselves in all client correspondence as licensed financial planners and if we see instances of people being called financial planners when they are not we must collectively write to the entity or individual and educate them. once they get 100 or 200 emails or letters (i prefer to send letters) they will change, it will take a while but it will happen.

Should ASIC be defunded?

"A lot of people call themselves financial advisers who are unlicenced". Warren Day seemingly couldn't care less. The attitude appears to be, 'we might have a look if we get a chance'.
He seemingly thinks his job is to crucify the licenced ones and not worry about people who don't fall under their oversight. My God! Why don't we just all become unlicenced and then ASIC would have nothing to worry about and we could just go around saying whatever we like to the public, with no care or responsibility. WHO IS THIS RABBIT?

I'm very disappointed with this response.

We're expected to jump through all these hoops to become a profession and despite jumping through those hoops the attitude seems to be pretty poor in protecting our professional descriptors.

If this were other professions, there would be a strong push back to this kind of comment.

Very poor and speaks to the psyche of the people who monitor us.

The financial advice professionals have had plenty of time to organise themselves into a proper professional body but that was too much hard work, too costly, had to agree on a code of professional conduct, had to pass professional entrance exams and had to work as independent professionals.

We didn't get a say on anything Hedware.
We've followed what has been asked of us from Hayne (and then some).

What more do you want from us?

Thanks Max but I mean way before Hayne. I remember the talk about professionalism when the banks started taking over wealth management companies, but going completely professional was either too hard, too difficult, too compromising (trailing commissions), tied to a company, or the representative bodies afraid of giving up benefits. Certain individuals couldn't spell professional let alone know what it meant despite using doctors, lawyers, engineers.

You are a complete ignorant fool ignoring the fact that PRODUCT PROVIDERS are currently CHARGING MEMBERS FEES for ADVICE that they are NOT required to provide - and all used to pay staff to sell only the IN HOUSE PRODUCT.

You do not serve anyone any good other than Industry Super - of which you have a very basic level of understanding.

Please do not get involved in matters of a profession - as I have serious doubts you belong to any profession. Treasury or ASIC would be my suspicion.

Ah Hedware you crack me up.
Your Industry Super funds are the biggest charges of HIDDEN COMMISSION / TRAIL COMMISSION in the industry.
Real Professional Advisers are banned from receiving any commission from Super or Investments. But not Industry Super who charge every member HIDDEN COMMISSIONS, when most Industry Super members DON’T get any advice for their commissions paid.
Industry Super Advisers sell only 1 product, the Industry Super Advisers are owned by their Industry Fund like old tied agents from the 1980’s.
Industry Super have advertised and put crap on Real Advisers for 20 years about commissions, yet the same Industry Super are the main Commission receivers today.
Yep what a professional mob you are Hedware. Seriously how on earth you can preach from your high hoarse about Professionalism is unbelievable and truely sad.

Way before Hayne, when the banks took over, there was a plethera of independent/unaligned advisers telling Australia that this Vertical Integration model was the wrong way to go. Nobody listened to us, despite the fact we turned out to be absolutely 100% correct. Now the banks have found it too hard to continue/make a profit and have left the space, also leaving those same IFAs/unaligned advisers to cop the ramifications of their mess.

Yet you ascertain that we are not capable of governing our ethics?

Taking into consideration the expected ramifications I can see will occur from the adopted Hayne recommendations, the government are quickly sinking the entire industry, all to the glee of the opposition government and industry funds which are likely to end up being the only players/operators left due to their Regulatory Capture advantage... all the while, serving their own interests, the interests of the Unions, and interests of the Labor Party.

FFS, wake up and smell the sh*t.

I am actually saying that financial advisors are very capable of working as professionals and are capable of governing the ethics of the industry (despite the naysayers here saying the ethics exams are too hard). Others here have said that they knew things would go down the drain once the banks got into wealth management and that's what happened. And then the product producers joined the banks' party. One result was that financial advisors copped unfair hits and suffered damage to their reputations.

Completely irrelevant point of opinion Hedware - but thanks.

Thanks but it is a shame that a good fence cant be put around the name of financial advisor and only to be used by those inside the fence meeting professional standards for financial advisors. It is something that qualified financial advisors can work upon and so enhance the reputation and benefit of financial advisors.

The talent does not exist within the Public Service to draft such legislation.

Hit the nail on the head Comrade Hedware. We were mislead by Industry Associations and the licensee structure. We thought they had our back. Turns out they were looking after the insto's. You are spot on and Advisers have a lot to answer for. If we were professionals we'd be calling for blood but we aren't so nothing will happen out of this. Various so called representatives and advocacy bodies should be calling for blood...but they won't. So beware the next consumer. I'm off to pay for my ASIC levies, my ASIC fee, just so I can be recorded on the ASIC find a licensed planner site and pay taxes so the tax payer funded ABC can ignore their own media code of conduct.

Pleased that you agree. Too much whinging going on and blaming everybody else.

The important point that you and others consistently miss Hedware, is that financial advice professionals have very little control over their own destiny. The licensing structure for financial advisers is set up in a way that allows product providers to be the primary financial advice licence holders, and to wield enormous control over financial advisers who are licensed through them. This has given product providers the dominant voice in industry associations and government lobbying. Not surprisingly, they have been a handbrake on professionalism and independence.

Yes, it is possible for individual advisers to break free and become self licensed, independently of the product companies. But this is quite complex and expensive to do, because the licensing environment is designed for large corporates not individuals. In spite of these constraints there is a small and growing band of self licensed advisers who are gradually exerting a louder voice within associations. But they are still very much the minority. It is a mistake to assume that most advisers have sufficient control over their environment to be able to drive the sorts of professionalism changes they would prefer.

Idiot Hayne had a perfect opportunity to fix this core structural problem, by recommending financial adviser licensing be simplified and product companies removed from the process. Instead he made it even more complicated. He further entrenched the position of product companies and handed them a bunch of extra tools they can use as coercion over advisers.

Agree... it would work just as well for the medical profession if doctors were licensed by pharmaceutical companies, then given an ethics document... :P

I agree with you entirely and you put it better than I could. The red tape and over regulation does not add much value to the client but adds to the paperwork and costs to advisors. But I do think that professional exams, which require a reasonably high pass mark are essential to underwriting credibility for whole financial advice sector and provide substance towards a group of people who can be regarded as professionals in good standing with other professional groups. Financing one's life is now a complex and constantly changing rules, regulations, laws, policies, accountancy, insurance and more. Getting of good financial advice is not an off-the-cuff service any more.

I called out The West Australian (WA daily tabloid) for running a story about "Trusted Accountant and Financial Adviser"
and pointed to s923C of the Corporations Act, stating “financial planner.adviser” is a restricted term unless they are authorised to give personal advice to retail clients on relevant financial products. To the West's credit, the follow up article only mentioned "Truysed Accountant". What little effort it would tale ASIC to to a media release to that effect. And as 'Funny' said before, if we, as a collective of advisers, notify media outlets 200/300 emails they will cease the incorrect term. Anyway FASEA Standard 12 behoves us to "protect the public interest", we, therefore, have an obligation to call it out don't you think?

Hedware, it might be a good idea to sink back into your cosy role with ASIC and please do not make any further comments on this forum. We had no say on this matter and take it from me, I wish we did.

In my next life I am going to come back as a Public Servant. Pay and conditions are great and you don't have to be accountable to your employer, our Nation's taxpayers. Dream job. No stress. Nothing worthwhile to do.

SOOO... will ASIC ACTUALLY do something about it here....

No, as they stated, they just don't care.

There should be some enforcement of a retraction, to at least get the incorrect information retracted in the next episode of the program, and with a note suggesting to check the status of a person purporting to be a financial planner, look them up on the ASIC Financial Planner Register. This would do a lot more to instill confidence in the financial planning industry and educate the public at the same time, not to mention educating the morons who report this crap without checking the FAR themselves.

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