ASIC lobbied on ‘private ruling service’ for new advice offers
Two industry bodies have urged ASIC to provide clearer guidance on the line between general and personal advice and implement a private ruling service to give financial advisers greater certainty about new advice offers.
In its submission to ASIC’s consultation on promoting access to affordable advice, the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees said the value of general advice to consumers as an affordable and accessible form of advice cannot be overstated.
“While consumers do not often understand the difference between general and personal advice — and may care even less — this does not reduce the value of general advice in serving the best interests of consumers on a wide-scale basis,” AIST stated in the submission.
The submission explained that while there are risks with consumers perceiving factual information or general advice as personal advice, the level of uncertainty about where the boundary line is can stifle the development of new advice offerings.
“While increased and ongoing guidance by ASIC can assist, AIST supports the submission of Industry Fund Services for ASIC to offer a private ruling service to enable financial advisers to consult and seek certainty during the design of new advice offers,” it stated.
In its submission to ASIC, Industry Fund Services suggested that ASIC offer a private ruling service to enable advice businesses to consult and obtain certainty during the design process when building new advice offers.
“This would greatly expedite the innovative thinking and new approaches to the advice affordability and access problem,” Industry Fund Services said in its submission.
AIST also suggested that ASIC issue guidance to promote the provision of post-retirement information by super funds about the current and future cost of living, budgeting, changes to age pension entitlements and drawdown arrangement.
“Compared to the amount of information about people in the accumulation stage and those approaching retirement, there is less information for people in retirement,” it said.
The submission also pointed out that clearer, unambiguous guidance about what constitutes general advice and what is personal advice would help improve the affordability of advice.
“Despite this being the subject of endless debate, and extensively canvassed in the 2012 RG 244 Giving information, general advice and scaled advice and the more recent RG 90 Example Statement of Advice: Scaled advice for a new client, differing views about this persist and the issue has seemed intractable,” the submission stated.
“Recent court decisions have further muddied the water and this needs to be addressed. ASIC should update their guidance about the boundaries between the provision of factual information and general advice in light of this and continuing ambiguities, and this should also be dynamic: regularly updated and responding to actual developments in the market.”
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates. Miranda has also directed SMSF Adviser's print publication for several years.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.