Following a public consultation process that was held between May and July 2018, the ASX Corporate Governance Council released the fourth edition of the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations in February 2019. A national roadshow was conducted in the first half of May 2019 to explain the changes in the fourth edition.
When we provide clients with compliance advice, one of the first questions we ask is “do you have retail or wholesale investors?” The distinction is vital as the AFS Licensee’s legal obligations and compliance requirements are dependent on which investor type they target, and what authorisations they have on their AFSL.
The Assistant Treasurer introduced the Treasury Laws Amendment (Design and Distribution Obligations and Product Intervention Powers) Bill 2018 (Cth) (Bill) in September 2018. If passed by Parliament, the Bill will make significant changes to the way retail financial products are designed and distributed to improve consumer protection. It also enhances ASIC’s powers to intervene in situations where consumers are put at risk.
ASIC has been called at various stages “a toothless tiger” and “a pawn of the financial services industry”. And the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Interim Report) doesn’t seem to disagree. Which brings up the question – does this mean that the future for ASIC, and the similarly unproductive APRA, is bright? Or does it mean that Commissioner Hayne is likely to recommend that there be at least some sort of reform of the regulators in the final report?