Hot topic of the week...

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Wednesday’s announcement by Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos that public submissions on the FOFA amendments are now open garnered much discussion among advisers this week.

The consultation process will be open for three weeks, with submissions closing on 19 February.

Following the consultation process, the Government predicts regulations will be made at the end of March 2014 and a Bill will be introduced into Parliament in the 2014 autumn sitting period to be passed into law during the winter sitting period.

Advisers seemed divided over whether the amendments were adequate or not.

While Garry Crole thought it was “A sensible approach to a very important piece of legislation”, Big Trev was concerned the amendments do not protect consumers enough.

“No problem with sensible reforms but how does any of the above ensure the consumer is not being serviced by advisers with low education who have been pushed through internal RG146 "Programmes" to ensure that the sales targets are met? 

“…What's your problem with putting every possible protection in place to ensure that Mum and Dad investors don’t entrust their life savings to a twit that's done a TAFE level course at best and in many cases, couldn't explain a first year economic principal let alone do a plan?” 

James Howarth also thought the proposed changes were weak.

“These amendments really do nothing but get us back to pre Labor. What about removing dealer groups in favour of direct licensing. What about streamlined AFSL applications?”

However, Peter Corrie defended the government, saying “The Liberal Party are obviously committed to helping small business by changing FOFA for the better.” But he pointed out it is the financial service industry which need to get the ball rolling.

“We need to pressure the government, ie advisers and their associations, licensed dealers and executives of life companies and fund managers, to get ASIC off our backs so we can operate without the prejudices restrictions and over regulation that exists at the moment.”

Innocent Observer would like to see some “constructive input” into the discussion from the AFA, FPA and dealer groups.

Sounds like some advisers are already planning their submissions!

Thanks to all contributors this week. See the article and other comments here.