The six areas the corporate watchdog focused on during 2020-21 with its levy were unlicensed advice, COVID-19 advice-related relief surveillance, the financial services Royal Commission recommendations, unmet advice needs, life risk insurance review, and ending grandfathered commissions.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released its estimated levies on industries that would see licensees providing personal advice to retail clients on relevant financial products pay a minimum levy of $1,500 plus $3,318 for every financial adviser. This was an increase of $712 from the previous financial year.
During FY 2019-20, ASIC said its cost of regulating the financial advice sector was $59.59 million. In FY 2020-21, this increased by $16.5 million to $76.13 million.
“In 2020–21, we will focus on the conduct and practices of licensees in this subsector to identify real and potential harms that threaten good investor and consumer outcomes, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” ASIC said.
“We remain committed to implementing the recommendations of the Financial Services Royal Commission, including our work in relation to progressing enforcement matters arising from the Royal Commission.
“We will take enforcement or other regulatory action where we identify a breach of the law.
“As requested by the Australian Government, we will continue to examine the effectiveness of the LIF [Life Insurance Framework] reforms in better aligning the interests of financial advisers and consumers.
“We are conducting a review of personal life insurance advice from before and after the LIF reforms were phased in. The results will show whether the quality of life insurance advice has improved. We will continue collecting aggregate level data from life insurers every six months to observe industry trends across the same period.”
ASIC noted that while it would report its LIF review findings to Treasury, it would not release a public report.
“We will continue to monitor advice compliance across financial advice firms, including banning non-compliant advisers or taking other regulatory action where appropriate. We will also monitor firms’ remediation programs for non-compliant advice identified,” it said.
On insurance product distributors, ASIC said it focused on protecting consumers from harm during a time of heightened vulnerability as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic during FY 2020-21.