The chief executive of the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) has admitted that its chief executive wrongly asserted to a Parliamentary committee that submissions around its code of ethics consultations had been made public but claims the CEO’s statements were “inadvertent”.
Weeks after the Government announced the disbanding of FASEA with its policy-making role being rolled into Treasury and code-monitoring being handed to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) a Parliamentary Committee has been told why FASEA’s CEO, Stephen Glenfield got it wrong on the public availability of code of ethics submissions.
However FASEA has been no more forthcoming about how it specifically arrived at the structure of the controversial Standard 3 within the Code of Ethics notwithstanding the fact that Queensland Liberal Senator and now assistant minister, Amanda Stoker made clear she wanted to know what had led to what amounted to last-minute changes.
“Did the last-minute change in Standard 3 of the Code of Ethics from “inappropriate personal advantage” to a “ban on conflicts of interest and duty” in the November 2018 to February 2019 period arise as a result of input as part of the consultation process, as part of the FASEA Board’s own deliberations, or from some other source (please identify the other source, if that is the option selected)?” Stoker asked. “What actions did FASEA take to assess whether such a ban was practical in the context of financial services?”
However, FASEA did not directly answer this query and stated, in part, that: “The Board of FASEA determined to make the Code of Ethics on 8 February 2019. As part of its decision-making process for determining to make the Code of Ethics, the board received and gave due consideration to a range of matters including:
- Input from the collective skills of management and directors.
- Feedback from stakeholders received from two rounds of public consultation in March-June 2018 and November-December2018.
- Review and analysis of stakeholder feedback.
On the question of how Glenfield wrongly asserted that code of ethics submissions had been made public, the FASEA answer claimed that Glenfield believed they had been made public when they had not.
“When giving evidence to Senate Estimates on 27 October 2020, the FASEA CEO believed the link to the November/December 2018 Code of Ethics submissions had long since been activated. Shortly afterwards, staff advised the CEO that the links had inadvertently not been activated. FASEA remedied this oversight and activated the links on 29 October 2020,” the answer said.
“The FASEA CEO did not seek to misinform the Senate Estimates hearing on 27 October 2020. We regret this happening,” it said.