Remediation bill tops $10b: ASIC

ASIC said its current tally for remediation provisioning is now "well above" $10 billion, but only $660 million has been returned to 1.2 million consumers.

Speaking at the FINSIA: The Regulators 2019 conference, ASIC deputy chair Karen Chester said "doing the right thing", particularly when dealing with non-financial risks, is a commercial "must have".

"Fairness, doing the right thing, can and should be seen to create commercial value. Intangible assets such as reputation, IP and customer base today account for over 80% of total corporate value as compared to less than 20% 40 years ago," Chester said.

"Look no further than the current tally for remediation provisioning now well above $10 billion."

Chester said this figure is not as shocking as it first seems, comparing it to the US$320 billion Bank of England governor Mark Carney estimated in 2017 for the global cost of misconduct for banks post Global Financial Crisis.

"Our interim tally of $10 billion plus is perhaps not out of step when adjusted for the size of our economy.  Only out of step in terms of timing and more a mismanagement of non-financial risks," she said.

Turning to transparency, Chester used her opening address to warn the regulator will be naming more names, though only where it sees regulatory value and purpose.

"So, where the transparency in naming an entity advances a consumer protection or market integrity objective and there are no compelling countervailing factors to do so," she said.

Chester added it was time to "call time" on disclosures as the default for consumer protection, saying that mandated disclosure and warnings have often failed to deliver the intended consumer outcomes, or in some cases have even caused consumer harm.

"Perhaps one of the fundamental shifts in regulatory policy, is the move to a world beyond disclosure. The evidence now unavoidably reveals that disclosure is not the 'silver bullet' it was once thought to be for consumer protection."

"Placing the onus on consumers to inform and protect themselves without also requiring firms to take responsibility for the design and distribution of their own products has not produced good consumer outcomes. It is time to rebalance - financial services firms need to share (with consumers) the responsibility for better consumer outcomes."

Chester said ASIC will be keeping an eye on both conduct and consumer outcomes as it heads into next year, calling on firms to also commit to change.

"...the most demonstrable evidence of that in financial services will be when firms understand, measure and deliver on good consumer outcomes," she said.

Read more: ASICKaren ChesterBank of EnglandFINSIAGlobal Financial CrisisMark Carney
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