Australia: Part I: Section 912A Corporations Act - Compliance, or a recipe for running a successful business?

This is the first part of a two-part blog series about the compliance obligations contained in section 912A of the Corporations Act, and how they can be considered, not as legislative obligations, but as ingredients for running a successful business. This part will cover the introduction to s912A of the Corporations Act, unpacking each obligation as an "ingredient" and how they eventually come together.

One of the problems with reading legislation is that it is sometimes drafted in a way that obscures its true purpose. (I apologise to any parliamentary counsel that may be reading this article.)

Take s912A of the Corporations Act for example. This sets out the general obligations of a financial services licensee. It reads like a list of things you must do and, of course, in one sense, it is exactly that. A list consists of separate items, so, unfortunately, that is the way we think of them. One needs to:

  • "do all things necessary to ensure that the financial services covered by the licence are provided efficiently, honestly and fairly" – nice and specific; very helpful; thanks for that – no internal tensions there!;
  • "have in place adequate arrangements for managing conflicts of interest" – OK done, yeah right!;
  • "comply with the conditions on the licence" – well, that seems easy enough, until I find out that not all the conditions are actually on the licence, but are also to be found in Corporations regulation 7.6.04, and in ASIC legislative instrument CO 14/923 (just thought I'd slip those in);
  • "...have adequate risk management systems."

I could go on, but it is not my purpose to exhaustively list the 10 obligations in s912A or to point out the difficulties. What I'd like to do is to simplify things and get to what this section is really on about.

It's a recipe; not for baking a cake, but for running a successful business. It is about governance.

Like a recipe, it's not the individual list of ingredients that produces the magic; it's the way they come together.

The first obligation to "do all things necessary..." is really a general description of the cake we are about to bake. It's saying we are about to list the ingredients that will produce a cake that is not only yummy, but is actually good for you as well. Translation: "We are going to produce a business that is not only efficient (contributing to a healthy and profitable sector of the economy), but that also produces good outcomes that are just and fair for clients and consumers". Although these intended outcomes compete with each other to some extent, we are going to find a balance that achieves all of them to some degree.

There then follows the list of ingredients - or business/governance systems. The conflicts of interest framework, the risk management framework, the dispute resolution system (including internal complaints handling procedures), the training measures, the supervision (or monitoring and supervision requirements) and the requirement to have adequate IT, financial and human resources. If all of these systems are in place, and if the information from each system is informing the others, the result will be a well-run business that is profitable for its owners, and that also achieves good outcomes for its clients/customers.

For example, identifying the risks to our business, and how to control those risks, should be informed by information received from our complaints handling system. This information will also inform our controls such as monitoring and supervision and training. Identification of conflicts of interest will enable us to identify more risks and work out how to control them. It will lead to considerations such as whether we have the right IT systems, do we have the right people and enough of them in the right places, not just in the compliance department, but in marketing and business development and all the other areas we need to run the business well, and do we have the money to pay for all the things we need? Do our staff need upskilling, not just in compliance but in our business activities (the financial services covered by the licence)?

Understanding the ingredients of the cake requires us to know who our " representatives" are. This is a defined term in the Act. It includes our directors. (There is a tendency to look down and out, not as in "appearing down and out" but as in looking down the hierarchical chain and across it rather than up.) Are our directors trained in relation to governance? Does our conflicts management extend to them? Are they setting the right cultural tone for the business? Our representatives also include "anybody acting on behalf of the licensee". This is a question of fact rather than one of design. Might there be people that others think are acting on behalf of the business even though they are not properly or formally authorised to do so? This can be as much a matter of appearance as anything else.

Stay tuned for the second and final blog which will discuss what steps you can take in light of the above information, including the review of business registers, convening regular board meetings, and taking a risk-based approach to your business and its systems.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Grant Holley
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.