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Details still needed on opt-in: ANZ Wealth
Friday, 23 March 2012 11:50am

The devil will be in the detail of the new requirements on opt-in according to ANZ Wealth, with a number of issues still to consider.

The government yesterday released its amendment to the FOFA legislation relating to the controversial requirement, which gives ASIC the power to exempt an adviser or dealer group from opting-in.

Under the new legislation, the regulator "may exempt a person, or a class of persons, from section 962K (the opt-in requirement), if ASIC is satisfied that the person is, or persons of that class are, bound by a code of conduct approved by ASIC".

It is up to ASIC to decide whether the code of conduct is acceptable and the regulator must then publish notice of the exemption in the government Gazette.

Paul Barrett, ANZ Wealth general manager, advice and distribution, said there are two key issues to consider.

"One is the detail- does a professional code of conduct have an in-built opt-in in it anyway...will that be a requirement? Also, what will ASIC's interpretation be?" queried Barrett at a media briefing in Sydney yesterday.

"If ASIC has a view that meeting a professional code of conduct should include some form of opt-in, what relief from opt-in is there really? That's the level of detail we need to see before we pass our final views on this."

Barrett said the clause also raises the question of who can form a professional association in the first place, in so far as who meets the requirements.

"Putting the obvious issues like FPA versus the AFA to one side for a moment, having a professional code of conduct in a profession is intuitively a good thing, so I don't think anyone can really knock the logic around having a professional code of conduct," said Barrett.

"What do you have to do as a practitioner to meet the code of conduct and that needs to be worked through, and I imagine ASIC will have a very strong view on that as well. So we need to firstly acknowledge that this could be a good thing, but until we get involved with the detail it remains to be seen."

Barrett said he thought a professional body would have to have the adequate resources to be able to execute, implement, monitor and supervise a code of conduct.

And he said ANZ Wealth was currently focused on how to implement opt-in.

"We're looking at how you physically implement this ... and it's not just a case of training advisers, it's a case of getting them the technology and process."

The most recent Investment Trends planner business model report showed only 18% of planners did not belong to a professional organisation, with 41% saying they were a CFP member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA).

88% of planners surveyed also said they were in favour of restricting the term "financial planner" to include only those who met clearly defined levels of qualifications and professional standards.

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