Super flagged in major ASIC crackdown

After the government announced a $127.2 million boost to ASIC yesterday, the corporate regulator has marked super and financial advice as two main areas it will be concentrating its resources on, with “major shadow shop” projects on the cards.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison yesterday announced the multi-million-dollar reform package serves to equip ASIC with stronger surveillance capabilities in Australia’s banking and financial systems.

In a briefing yesterday, ASIC’s deputy chair Peter Kell said that of the funds that will be directed to surveillance and enforcement, one significant area of focus will be a review of the sales of superannuation and investment products, particularly those distributed through the banks.

Further, Mr Kell said ASIC plans to undertake a series of expanded and additional projects directed at financial advice and a “major shadow shop”, with a follow-up shadow shopping project two years following that.

“Those are some examples of the practical industry-wide actions that we will either be able to take on an expanded basis or initiating as a result of this funding. Many of those reviews are either focused on the banking sector, or have the banking sector as a major element,” he said.

News of ASIC’s budget boost has been generally well received throughout the industry, however, concerns are surfacing based on the government’s decision that from 2017-18 ASIC’s costs will be recovered from all the industry sectors it regulates.

Although he broadly welcomed the move, Alex Malley, the chief executive of CPA Australia, suggested the broader implications of the funding boost are yet to be fully realised. 

“All sectors subject to regulation by ASIC – not just the banks – will be required to meet ASIC’s costs from 2017-18. We’re keenly interested to see what the implications are for the small businesses, registered liquidators, auditors and others who will be affected by this,” he said.
 
“It’s about striking the right balance. We note that the government has committed to further consultation to refine and settle the funding model and we look forward to participating in that process to ensure all these fees and levies are set at a reasonable level."

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