(Left to right) Mark Bland, Ryan Pickles, Oscar Martinis and Kon Costas

The time it takes from submission to approval for advice practice principles applying to the securities regulator for their own license has shortened in recent months, according to a specialist license application lawyer.

While the conventional rule of thumb for an Australian Financial Services License application with ASIC is has been between six and nine months, that process is now taking two to four months, Mark Bland, a lawyer formerly with ASIC who is a partner with Mills Oakley, has said.

Bland was a panellist at a session entitled The Path to Self-licensing at Thursday’s Professional Planner Best Practice Forum in Melbourne, moderated by Kon Costas, BT Financial Group’s BT Open head of services.

In response to the question regarding whether advice practice principles in the room had already or planned to go down the self-licensing path, around a quarter of delegates were considering going self-licensed, while another quarter were already self-licensed and the bulk of the remaining delegates were not interested in pursuing self-licensing.

How efficient practice principals are at navigating the license application process naturally depends on the quality of the application and the applicant’s ability respond to the regulator’s questions in a timely manner, Bland said.

In addition to describing the timeline in which license applications are currently progressing, Bland also raised some of the areas the Australian Securities and Investments Committee is currently focusing its attention during the application process.

“First impressions are really important,” Bland said. He also added that heavily templated applications can raise red flags with the regulator and potentially prompt further examination of a practice’s compliance framework.

While ASIC is approving applications more quickly now than in previous months, Band noted the regulator is throwing some “curly questions” to aspiring license holders.

ASIC is looking closely at the practice’s professional indemnity cover and, in particular, how the policy addresses approved product list advice, Bland said.

Bland was joined on stage at the Best Practice Forum discussion by PI specialist Oscar Martinis, senior partner at Mcdougall Kelly & Martinis, and Ryan Pickles, a previous Count Financial adviser who became self-licensed to start Hamilton Morello. Martinis separately highlighted that the cost of PI cover has gone up in the realm to 20 to 30 per cent in the last 18 months.

ASIC is also increasingly asking advice practice principles whether their business has the financial resources to cover the deductable amount in its PI cover.

“Practice leaders ready to answer these sorts of questions from the regulator in a timely manner are going to give themselves the best chances of achieving an efficient application process,” Bland said.


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