Continued calls for code compliance extension

Following ASIC providing relief to licensees in regards to ensuring advisers are registered with a compliance scheme, the Financial Planning Association of Australia is calling for more to ensure compliance.

Speaking to Financial Standard, FPA head of policy and standards Ben Marshan said: "It was an important step for ASIC as there was a legal requirement for licensees to ensure financial planners were registered with a code monitoring body, and that registration was recorded on the financial adviser register before the end of the year."

However, he said it's important to be clear compliance with the code will still be necessary from 2020 at this stage.

"This ASIC relief for licensees was purely relief from registration and recording. Compliance with the Code still applies for financial planners from January 1," Marshan said.

"This creates an issue given the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority has acknowledged they need to reissue the guidance because it still isn't clear what FASEA's intent with the code is and how it should be interpreted."

The FPA is seeking an extension to compliance with the code, arguing that a lack of clarity and late guidance will make it too hard for advisers to be compliant.

"The FPA is in discussions with government, regulators and other associations on how we can come to a solution to allow FASEA to amend or clarify their code, and provide time for financial planners to transform their business models and advice process to comply with the Code," Marshan said.

"From when FASEA might re-release their guidance, there may be only days left for this transformation to occur, which is clearly insufficient.

"Financial planners want to comply with the code, but there has been a failure by FASEA to clearly articulate their intent, and the requirements of planners under the code."

He said FPA members have told the association they are concerned about how unclear the code is.

"The lack of time frame to transform their business and advice process is a major concern - they want to comply, there just isn't enough time to change polices and processes, service models, fee models and more by January from where we sit today," Marshan explained.

He added that Standard 3 continues to prompt "significant concern" following the release of FASEA's guidance.

"Irrespective of FASEA's public statements which say they don't intend to ban any particular type of remuneration, it is impossible to interpret 'avoid' in any other way," Marshan said.

Read more: CodeFASEAFPAASICFinancial Planning Association of AustraliaBen MarshanFinancial StandardEthics AuthorityFinancial Adviser Standards
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