ASIC Taskforce Signals Shift from Self-Regulation in Finance Industry

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Enforcement Review Taskforce is conducting consultations on a number of proposed reforms to improve the enforcement powers of ASIC. The Taskforce  has just released a series of consultation papers.

Recent media reports and Parliamentary inquiries have revealed the impact that poor financial services practices have on people’s lives, leading to intense regulatory scrutiny and reduced consumer confidence.

One of the key issues being explored by the Taskforce is whether self-regulatory initiatives, such as industry codes, are achieving their potential, or whether a co-regulatory model should be introduced. Currently, service providers voluntarily subscribe to a code of best practice set out by the industry itself.

Under a co-regulatory model, industry participants would be required to subscribe to an ASIC approved code, and in the event of non-compliance with the code an individual customer would be entitled to seek appropriate redress through the participant’s internal and external dispute resolution arrangements.

The Taskforce’s positions as outlined in the paper are as follows:

  • Position 1: The content of and governance arrangements for relevant codes (those that cover activities specified by ASIC as requiring code coverage) should be subject to approval by ASIC;
  • Position 2: Entities engaging in activities covered by an approved code should be required to subscribe to that code (by a condition on their AFSL or some similar mechanism);
  • Position 3: Approved codes should be binding on and enforceable against subscribers by contractual arrangements with a code monitoring body;
  • Position 4: An individual customer should be able to seek appropriate redress through the subscriber’s internal and external dispute resolution arrangements for non-compliance with an applicable approved code;
  • Position 5: The code monitoring body, comprising a mix of industry, consumer and expert members, should monitor the adequacy of the code and industry compliance with it over time, and periodically report to ASIC on these matters.

The taskforce invites all interested parties to make a submission on the positions outlined in this paper by 26 July 2017.

Address written submissions to:

ASIC Enforcement Review
Financial System Division
The Treasury
Langton Crescent