Australian Regulators Weekly Wrap — Monday, 15 February 2021

15 February 2021
Liam Hennessy, Partner, Brisbane

Keeping on top of the latest financial services regulatory & compliance trends?

Investing time in your professional development within a rapidly changing financial services industry is challenging. To meet that challenge, the Australian Regulators Weekly Wrap is designed to keep you at the forefront of your practice by quickly setting out the top five developments from the past week, analysis and practical considerations for the future.

  1. Remediation (ASIC): ASIC has released the latest statistics on repayments for customers who have suffered loss or detriment because of ‘fees for no service’ issues or ‘non-compliant advice’. AMP, ANZ, CBA, Macquarie, NAB and Westpac have paid/offered a total of $1.24bn in compensation, as at 31 December 2020. The remediation stems back to reviews ASIC started in 2015, before the Hayne Royal Commission, as to the extent of failure by the institutions to deliver ongoing advice services to financial advice customers who were paying fees to receive those services, and how effectively the institutions supervised their financial advisers to identify and deal with ‘non-compliant advice’.
  2. Judicial review body (Treasury): together with the plans for a Federal anti-corruption body, the Morrison Government is considering the design of a judicial complaints agency. The agency could investigate allegations of corruption and other misconduct — including sexual harassment and bullying. The Rudd Government considered something of this nature, though went with having a Chief Judge to investigate complaints given the knotty constitutional issues involved. Personally, I think this is really sensitive ground. The intent is great, of course, but the practical application is tricky. Uncomfortable ground as it is to discuss, the existing State public-sector corruption agencies are often sought to be misused to settle scores — the fact of an investigation alone is often damaging – in my experience. Given the separation of powers, and the need to uphold the administration of justice, I think that any judicial complaints agency should have a very tightly constructed terms of reference…
  3. AFSA Speech (APRA): APRA Deputy Chair Helen Rowell gave a speech to the ASFA Conference. The key points I picked up built on APRA’s priorities released last week. That is, the key areas of focus for the review of the prudential framework include insurance and investment governance in the first half of 2021, followed by the outsourcing, risk management, governance, conflicts and fit and proper standards in late 2021 and 2022. APRA will also take account of findings from the thematic reviews such as APRA’s reviews of unlisted asset valuation practices, implementation of APRA’s strategic planning and member outcomes standard, expenditure practices and trustee capability/governance practices.
  4. Monetary threshold (AFCA): the Australian Financial Complaints Authority has adjusted its monetary limits for complaints, which now include: the maximum value of a claim for compensation AFCA can consider ($2m); the maximum size of a credit facility AFCA can consider a complaint about ($5m); and, the maximum amount AFCA can award a consumer or small business for complaints about banking and finance, general insurance, life insurance and investments and advice. The claim limits are set out in a helpful document, which is my top read for the week.
  5. Year in review (APRA): the prudential regulator has released a document on its year in review. It provides APRA’s view on the financial environment and details its key activities for the year across the banking, insurance and superannuation industries. The 2020 Year in Review also contains metrics for APRA-regulated industries, including analysis of industry composition, profitability and financial strength. The report itself is an interesting, if unsurprising, trip down memory lane for 2020. What I thought were particularly interesting were the anonymised supervision vignettes that APRA provided for such a provide regular, for example: “Following a whistleblower notification to the Board of an entity and subsequently to APRA, APRA engaged with the entity over its response to the significant issues raised. APRA was not satisfied with the timeliness or urgency of the response and acted to ensure the issues would be appropriately considered. The resultant investigation identified deficiencies and led to control improvements in the finance function and expense management, and the commissioning of an independent review into the risk management practices of the entity. APRA is monitoring progress against the findings of the review, which will enhance Board oversight and management control of the entity”.

Thought for the future: this year is packed in terms of the regulatory timeframe, with most people having moved on from Mortgage Broker’s BID to DDO and breach reporting now starting in October 2021. Feel free to keep up with the updates as they come, by signing up to this calendar!

 

Published on Australian Regulators Weekly Wrap.

 


Authored by:

Liam Hennessy, Director

Get in touch with the Gadens team to discuss any regulation and compliance issues.

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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