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?
On 15 February 2018, a new risk International Risk Management Standard ISO 31000:2018 was released. ISO 31000:2018 is shorter, clearer and more concise than its predecessor, but is still considered best practice for implementing risk management systems. A new Australia/New Zealand Standard (which adopts ISO 31000:2018 in full) was adopted by Standards Australia on 30 October 2018.