ASIC flags ‘concerning trends’ in limited licensing

ASIC flags ‘concerning trends’ in limited licensing

The corporate regulator has identified several “concerning trends” in the process of implementing the limited licensing regime, including training inadequacies.

ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer identified patterns that have emerged in relation to the limited Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence applications in a speech to the CPA Australia SMSF Conference yesterday.

Mr Tanzer noted trends of concern with the applications include “inadequate or no evidence” of RG 146 training course completion for all or some of the financial products sought under the application.

In addition, Mr Tanzer noted some applications show “limited or no knowledge” of the restricted scope of the class of product advice authorisation, as well as inadequate professional indemnity insurance coverage.

In response to some of these trends, ASIC has amended some of it its guidance material on applying for a limited licence.

“To help reduce the costs of operating within the AFS licensing regime, holders of a limited AFS licence can lodge a compliance certificate rather than undertake an annual external audit of their financial statements and internal controls,” Mr Tanzer added.

“This exemption from the annual external audit requirement will be available to limited AFS licence holders who do not handle any client money in connection with the provision of financial advice.”

However, Mr Tanzer stressed that limited AFS holders will otherwise need to meet the same ongoing requirements as other AFS licensees.

“This includes all other licensing conduct and advice requirements to which financial advisers are subject, such as providing clients with a statement of advice where required, as well as membership of an external dispute resolution scheme and compliance with the FOFA measures, such as the duty to act in the best interests of clients,” he said.

So far, data shows expectations that accountants would get their SMSF licensing sorted early have not been realised.

In relation to the limited license, Treasury estimated that about 10,000 accountants would apply, the IPA’s Vicki Stylianou told SMSF Adviser. So far, approximately 20-30 have obtained a limited license.

However, Ms Stylianou said this figure may improve “dramatically” once accountants realised that the requirements for applying for a limited license were not as onerous as they were at the beginning of the transition period.

“To its credit, ASIC has made the application process more practical; and has issued extensive guidance on how to apply,” Ms Stylianou said.

“Compliance once a license has been granted is another matter; and some accountants may not fully realise that about 90 per cent of the Corporations Act applies to the limited license including the licensing obligations in section 912A.”

ASIC flags ‘concerning trends’ in limited licensing
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