Registration, qualifications and continuing education
In the wake of the GFC and several large financial advice
scandals, there is a very strong push to require a higher level of
education from financial advisers. The Financial Systems Inquiry
and the Parliamentary Joint Committee (PJC) have both recommended
that financial advisers must hold at least a bachelors level
qualification and meet more onerous ongoing professional
The Government has also committed to launch a Register of
Relevant Providers in March 2015. The recent PJC report has also
made some recommendations about what the register should
Such reforms appear to have broad support on both sides of
Parliament. No details of implementation or firm timelines have
been released yet, although the PJC report contains
recommendations. We anticipate that a transitional period will
apply, where existing financial advisers will be able to register
with ASIC regardless of existing qualification status, then
gradually requiring all advisers in the industry to attain higher
qualifications than are currently required.
Although the accountants' exemption does not cease until 30
June 2016, many accountants will need to make a decision about the
future of their business this year in order to prepare for the
relevant deadline (in particular, to ensure that relevant staff
obtain RG146 qualifications).
Most accountants are now faced with the decision to either:
forgo SMSF-related business and decline to be authorised under
a limited AFSL;
become an authorised representative of an AFSL and lose a level
of autonomy in their business; or
obtain their own limited licence and incur the related
This is an issue for financial services professionals as well,
many of whom have referral arrangements or other professional
relationships with accountants and are wondering how to safeguard
their own businesses if these accountants can start offering a
level of financial advice.
As the deadline approaches, we anticipate that many more
accountants will be seeking advice about how to navigate the new
Fintech and emerging technologies
We are receiving an increasing number of calls from people
interested in taking advantage of emerging financial markets,
whether that be:
using new technologies to provide traditional financial
services (such as shortterm loans via ATMs, or financial advice
that is largely automated via the internet);
branching out into digital currencies;
peer to peer lending; or
These areas do not fit neatly into existing regulatory
categories and are posing policy issues for ASIC and ASIC is
traditionally fairly reactive when it comes to addressing
developments in the industry. The Financial Systems Inquiry report
had strong recommendations in favour of fostering innovation in the
financial system, including recommendations that:
a public-private sector collaborative committee be established
to facilitate financial systems innovation; and
fundraising regulation evolve to facilitate crowdfunding for
both debt and equity.
We anticipate that emerging financial technologies will continue
to be a dynamic area in 2015.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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