ASIC Commissioner Danielle Press

ASIC is consulting with the advice industry on a project to lower the cost of advice delivery, or at least determine whether anything can be done outside of changing legislation to help advice delivery to be more easily scaled, an ASIC commissioner has revealed.

“Probably the most critical [thing we are doing] is that we’re engaging with industry to understand the impediments they face in providing affordable and scalable advice to consumers,” ASIC commissioner Danielle Press told a Parliamentary Joint Committee recently.

“We hear a lot that the cost is too high, but we’re not sure where those costs are coming from, so we’re trying to get to the bottom of: Is it a regulatory issue or is it a legislative issue?,” Press said in response to a question from a question by Queensland Senator Bern van Manen.

“Obviously if it’s a legislative issue that will be a matter for government,” Press noted.

However, Press, who is also appearing at Professional Planner’s Best Practice Forum on August 4, went on to note that ASIC is consulting with the industry specifically on about whether guidance is clear enough or whether licensees may be taking a different view to what the regulator is taking within its guidance. This, she said, is where the regulator’s work is currently focused on the matter.

The ability for advisers to provide quality financial advice in a profitable way and within the bounds of expectations of policy makers and regulators has been a topic of discussion since the Hayne royal commission called out the loss-leader advice model and the banks subsequently pulled up stumps on their respective mass-market advice strategies.

“I’ve engaged personally with a number of the groups, and my team is providing a lot of engagement with them to try to make sure we can get good financial advice to clients in a professional way,” Press said to the parliamentary committee late last week.

Extending amnesty on rules relating to Records of Advice and Statement of Advice delivery temporarily introduced since the spread of COVID-19 is understood to be a topic for future consideration by the regulator.