Better Advice Bill passes Parliament
The Better Advice Bill passed Parliament late on Thursday, ensuring that the financial services and credit panel within ASIC will become the single disciplinary body for financial advisers from 1 January 2022.
The Morrison government has confirmed that the panel will be chaired and assisted by the corporate regulator and made up of members in the industry appointed by the relevant minister.
The legislation will see the removal of the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) as an advice regulator and that FASEA be wound up with its responsibilities to be given to Treasury and ASIC.
The government has confirmed it will extend the exam cut-off date to 30 September 2022 for advisers who have attempted the exam twice prior to 1 January 2022.
“The government would like to thank the FASEA board and its staff for the work they have undertaken in setting professional standards for the financial advice industry and the important contribution towards improving the education, training and ethical standards in the sector,” a statement from government reads.
Speaking in the Senate on Thursday, Financial Services Minister Jane Hume noted the vital role financial advisers have played through the COVID-19 pandemic, saying Australians who turned to their advisers for considered advice helped them "through the worst of the COVID-induced recession".
"Ensuring that Australians can continue to access high quality, professional and affordable financial advice is incredibly important as we emerge from the pandemic and I commend this bill to the Senate," Ms Hume said.
Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) CEO Dante De Gori said the legislation is a win for the industry and will allow advisers to focus on their clients and on the "challenge of providing financial advice to more Australians without the distraction of constant regulatory change".
Mr De Gori added the changes will streamline regulation and help reduce costs for consumers as well as those in the sector.
“The past two years has been another period of significant reform that has overhauled the regulation and practice of financial advice in Australia,” Mr De Gori said.
The Better Advice Bill will also include new registration requirements for financial advisers, which FPA head of policy, strategy and innovation Ben Marshan previously raised concerns about during a Senate economics hearing in July.
Mr Marshan argued that because individual advisers do not have a relationship with ASIC or other regulators, they "won’t necessarily fully understand all their regulatory obligations".
“We think it’s an important step to foster professionalism for the individual to be individually accountable including the registration process," he said.
In August, Liberal MP Tim Wilson, who supported the bill, conceded he had reservations specifically about ASIC's role as the single disciplinary body.
"I have ongoing concerns about the operations of ASIC and we hope under its new leadership that it will fulfil its function properly,” he said in Parliament.
“ASIC needs to make sure that it’s backing financial advisers, not undermining them.”
Tony Zhang is a Journalist at 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 2020, Tony has covered various publications across the legal, financial and professional services sectors including Lawyers Weekly, Adviser Innovation, ifa and Accountants Daily.