Stephen Jones (courtesy of the FSC and Daryl Charles Photography)

Further ASIC levy relief hasn’t been ruled out by the government, but with more work to be done on the Quality of Advice Review response, it is unlikely to be a priority.

At a Financial Services Council event in Sydney on Monday, Professional Planner asked the minister why the levy was being raised at the same time the government was trying to combat the rising cost of advice with the QAR. Jones said it would have sent “all the wrong signals” to continue the freeze, which was brought in by the former government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have industry funding models for both of the regulators and that won’t change,” he said.

“I will look at it, but I don’t want to say within the current round. It’s just bandwidth, mate. So many things we can deal with in any point in time.”

The ASIC levy freeze was ended after a review of the regulator’s Industry Funding Model, which will see the advice industry charged a flat fee of $1500 per licence plus a graduated component of $3217 per adviser.

The comments come off the back of a national roadshow by the FSC and other members of the Join Associations Working Group in regional Queensland, during which Jones was peppered with questions about the levy.

Help me help you

While the government has maintained its commitment towards pursuing some of the QAR changes it announced last month, Jones said some of the issues in the industry come from outside what is enshrined in law.

The QAR recommended streamlining fee consent into one document, rather than individual ones, which FSC chief executive Blake Briggs noted many of the associations have been working together on.

“If you guys get your act together on this standard stuff it’ll make a lot easier for us to do what we want to do which is have a single point of concern,” Jones said in response.

The minister made a similar edict to the industry for Statements of Advice, noting the growth of the documentation has come organically rather than from legislation which will complicate the legislative approach.

“A lot of the additional documentation that has come forward over the last decade hasn’t been driven by Parliament,” Jones said.

“You might say the regulator is the ‘baddie’ and they’re the ones that have provided these really complex regulatory guidance documents that you’ve got to comply with… but what are your own legal departments requiring to be written in these SOAs as well and how much is that driving the volume of documentation? There’s a challenge for all of us here.”

Part of the government’s QAR response will include industry consultation on what the future SOA should look like.