ASIC details its interactions with Choice

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has acknowledged the degree to which consumer group Choice has had input into its policy and other deliberations.

ASIC’s acknowledgement has come as part of a Parliamentary Committee’s questioning, with the regulator acknowledging the number of times it has met with Choice over the three years and the fact that Choice is represented on ASIC’s Consumer Advisory Panel which meets three time a year.

ASIC’s engagement with Choice was queried within a question on notice from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services as part of a series of queries around ASIC’s approach to the regulation of the timeshare industry.

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“ASIC’s Consumer Advisory Panel (CAP) comprises representatives from consumer and investor groups and meets three times per year to discuss a broad range of consumer and investor issues. Choice is represented on CAP,” the regulator said.

“ASIC’s meetings with Choice have assisted ASIC’s understanding of potential consumer harms in respect of time-share and provide an alternate view to those expressed by industry in our consideration of our policy settings,” it said.

“As an interested stakeholder, Choice are generally kept informed of ASIC’s inquiries through meetings held with them specifically and their involvement in our Consumer Advisor Panel but Choice had no involvement in the nature or direction of the research activities undertaken,” the ASIC answer said.

“Their views have been considered in the formulation of our proposed amendments to RG 160 through our consultation on RG 160.”

ASIC also revealed in answer to a question on notice from the committee that none of its personnel involved in its review of the time share industry had actually worked in the industry, but stated that they had combined experience in undertaking consumer research, researching financial products and assessing the quality of financial advice.

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ASIC = corrupt left leaning ideological self interest group. How else can you reconcile the disparate treatment across all advice sectors and the agendas they have pushed hard even to the extent of literally lying on record and issuing knowingly erroneous and ill-researched reports?

This is absolute BS. What would be the public reaction if AMP sat in place of Choice, and had influence all all these policies. No wonder the industry is a mess.

An inane comment given we all know how ethically AMP treated after its customers.

Hello XO

You still standing by CHOICE and ASIC Hedware?

Once upon a time Choice provided a valuable service representing the interests of Australian consumers. Then about 10 years ago Choice was a hijacked by a slimy self promoter. It completely lost touch with real consumers and its real purpose. That slimy self promotion culture persists to this day, and sadly Choice has long since ceased representing real consumers. No government agency should be wasting their time talking to Choice any more.

The current FASEA Board of Directors includes 3 individuals with prior appointments with CHOICE, Consumer Action Law Center and Consumer Federation of Australia.
A retired Director had significant experience with consumer protection with the Trade Practices Commission.
There is valid speculation that ASIC had direct involvement with FASEA in respect to the highly controversial
re-wording of the Code of Ethics, Standard 3.
Did ASIC engage CHOICE to participate in the submission of recommendations for the alteration of Standard 3 ?
Did CHOICE engage with FASEA in submitting information in regard to the revised wording of Standard 3 ?
During the Life Insurance Framework negotiations both the Consumer Action Law Centre and CHOICE repeatedly and aggressively called for the total banning of Life Insurance commissions.
We now have 3 FASEA Directors with a strong background from these very organisations.
If anyone does not believe there is a conflict of interest within the FASEA Board they are conflicted themselves.
Stephen Glenfield must answer whether CHOICE and ASIC were both involved in submissions regarding the revised wording of Standard 3.

Choice and CALC have a track record of erroneously claiming that commissions are conflicted and therefore bad for consumers, whereas fee for service is unconflicted and therefore good for consumers. This is utterly bogus. All forms of payment are conflicted. What really matters is ensuring best interest, not the payment method used. Unfortunately the falsehoods peddled by Choice and CALC are seeping into regulations, and progressively denying consumers options such as commissions that can be much better for them in many cases. This anti consumer approach by Choice and CALC shows they are not really consumer associations any more.

How is a fee for service conflicted? You get a service and you pay for that service. Whether the fee paid is value for money is not conflicted.
A commission is conflicted because it is not overly transparent whether a service was delivered and that was the finding of the Royal Commission. In numerous examples provided to the Royal Commission, the best interest test was not applied nor honoured. In other words commissions were rorts.

Of course Choice and CALC had a track record in supporting customers of the financial services industry and its agents. It is a real pity that trustees did not have the same endeavour. Equally there's been plenty of financial advisors found wanting (almost one found in every issue of this august publication). There's some proverb about glass houses that the people in the financial services industry need to recall before throwing stones at Choice and CALC.

Fee for service is conflicted because it encourages advisers to recommend products which generate more fees. Products such as SMSFs or internally managed portfolios.

Fee for service is conflicted because it encourages advisers to recommend unnecessarily complex solutions, which require more fees to implement and explain.

Fee for service is conflicted because it encourages advisers to spend more time with clients than may be necessary. For example doing quarterly reviews to discuss the minutiae of sharemarket volatility, when it may actually be in the clients interest to ignore short term volatility and focus on longer term performance.

None of the above situations are necessarily wrong. In some cases they will be in clients' best interests, in others not. But that is determined by a best interests test, not whether the payment method is conflicted. All payment methods are conflicted.

Similarly with commission based insurance advice. In some cases it will be in clients' best interest in others not. But that is determined by a best interests test, not whether the payment method is conflicted. All payment methods are conflicted.

Well put argument for best interests test.

Hedware works for CHOICE

sometimes it's best to quote someone else who has already spoken so eloquently.

“CHOICE provides a valuable service for consumers in reviewing vacuum cleaners and washing machines, and they need to stick to what they know.” Mr Peter White AO, MD, Finance Brokers Association of Australia

v.Smart FP

'Nothing to see here, nothing to see here' by Mr White. The Finance Brokers Association has looked after self-interest while Choice has looked after 170,000 plus consumers' interests. The Finance Brokers Association's silence prior and during the Royal Commission shows its moral indifference and professional negligence. Maybe it should be doing the vacuum cleaners.
Did White get his gong for supporting Morrison's opposition to holding the Royal Commission?

You couldn't get a more "activist" BS post than this.

How's this line "The Finance Brokers Association's silence prior and during the Royal Commission shows its moral indifference and professional negligence. "

Where have you been?

Appreciate your endorsement. Thanks.

Has everyone found the Choice product recommendations to be absolutely sh*thouse too? That's my experience. Crap recommendation on white goods. Imagine a 10 year look back on their direct debits to find people who paid but did not access their website. I wonder if they take money from product providers to be included in their recommendations?

On ASIC's website it lists the organisations who are members of the Consumer Advisory Panel (CAP).
Interestingly, it states "the members include both representatives from consumer and investor organisations and individual members "....however, it doesn't list those individuals.
It then states the current members of CAP for 2014 to 2016 !!! (a little out of date you would think)
Out of this list, CHOICE, Consumer Action Law Centre Vic and the Consumers Federation Australia are noted.
3 Directors of the current FASEA Board have been a former CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre, former Chair of the Consumers Federation Australia and a Co-CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre , former Chair of the Financial Rights Legal Centre and high level involvement with CHOICE.
The links between the 3 current FASEA Directors and the ASIC Consumer Advisory Panel cannot and should not be ignored.
In addition to the Consumer Advisory Panel is also the Financial Advisers Consultative Panel. (FACP).
It states this panel assists ASIC in:
contributing to our understanding of issues in the financial advice industry.
improving ASIC's capacity to identify, assess and respond to emerging trends in the financial services industry.
enhancing our relationships with our key stakeholders.
The members of the FACP are practising financial advisers.
"The FACP will provide ASIC with views on a broad range of issues relating to the financial services industry".
The website states " the terms of reference for the FACP are currently under review" !!
The question is this:
Did ASIC consult the Consumer Advisory Panel in regard to any proposed submissions to FASEA in relation to the Code of Ethics ?
Did ASIC consult the Financial Advisers Consultative Panel in regard to any proposed submissions to FASEA in relation to the Code of Ethics ?
Did ASIC consult either or both of these panels in relation to their submission to the Royal Commission ?
Is there an issue with 3 current Directors of FASEA previously holding very high level positions with 3 organisations who are represented on ASIC's Consumer Advisory Panel ?
The more you dig, the deeper and deeper the links become.
If any single person believes that association , ideology and pre-determined bias and attitude is not a major player in the formation of past and current financial services legislation and control , they are already in that space.
This is a very big game and the people who are determined to win are already in control.

Now ASIC has brought the truth to light this week, it's fascinating how Choice hasn't come out condemning IntraFund Advice fees, where Industry Fund members are paying for advice they don't receive, and those members aren't able to opt-out of those advice fees. It's abundantly obvious why not.

A Choice employee regularly contributes to these comments with their anti-adviser activism and pro-ISN sympathies.

How sensitised is Hedware to this topic involving Choice. Activist much? For years Hedware has been posing as an industry participant, an adviser with clients. Hedware has VERY strong connections with the people at Choice.

I think choice needs to stick to reviewing fridges and groceries or better get an AFSL so that they know what they are talking about

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