Senator Jane Hume stopped short of putting a moratorium on new regulation for advisers, but she noted that parliament wasn’t due to meet again until August at the earliest, suggesting government wouldn’t expect advisers to comply with rules still in draft exposure stage.

Speaking with Conexus Financial CEO Colin Tate during a session to open the Conexus Digital Retirement Conference this morning, the assistant minister for superannuation, financial services and financial technology said government was actively working on devising ways to help ease the regulatory burden on advisers.

After being pressed specifically on the struggles of advisers dealing with panicked clients and “dislocated markets” during the coronavirus crisis, and being asked if any reforms could be potentially “kicked down the road” by Tate, the minister brought up her backing of an extension to FASEA’s education requirements as an example of the support the government was prepared to given advisers.

“We’ve already announced – and it has gone through the house of representatives – an extension to the FASEA education timelines,” Hume said. “It has bipartisan support, which is terrific. I want to reassure everyone that still remains the case.”

But a blanket moratorium on new legislation being rolled out under the government’s royal commission road map implementation plan was not forthcoming from the minister.

“No,” Hume said, when a conference attendee raised the question of a 12-month break from reforms, before adding that the question deserved a broader response.

“We understand that it’s an industry that’s had a bit of a rough time lately. We’ll be working with you and it’s something that’s very much on the radar,” she said.

“Yes, parliament isn’t going to resume until the time is appropriate, but that doesn’t mean that things don’t get done,” Hume said. “Things will certainly get done.”

In a subsequent session, Financial Planning Association chief executive Dante De Gori brought up Hume’s comments.

“It’s interesting that Hume spoke on the reform agenda stemming from the [Hayne] royal commission,” De Gori said. “It’s important to clarify that the government is not putting a halt on reforms, but obviously it’s realistically impossible for the government to commit to the roadmap as currently outlined.

Genuine opportunities for advisers

Despite prevaricating on the issue of delaying the scheduled July 1 changes, which also include a lack of independence disclosure for advisers, Hume did say the government was actively working on devising ways to make things easier for advisers.

“There are genuine opportunities for advisers to demonstrate their worth, because there are a lot of nervous people that are unadvised and switching to cash,” Hume said. “We will be exploring ways to ensure advisers can speak to their clients to ‘calm the farm’ as much as they possibly can without being concerned about breaching their regulatory requirements.”

Hume said the government was “putting its head around” making financial advice more affordable, and admitted that there was an “urgent need” for reform given the current crisis environment. “We’re working with ASIC to do exactly that,” she added.