Advice reforms: Government goes ‘back to basics’ – Life Insurance – Insurance News


The Morrison Government is looking to ease the regulatory burden on the advice sector, Financial Services Minster Jane Hume said last week at the AIA Adviser Summit.

Ms Hume says the last several years have been challenging for the sector as it coped with a raft of changes that have led to a “Gordian knot” situation for advisers.

“There’s been a lot of changes in the industry in the last ten years as I said before and I’ll say it again,” Ms Hume said.

“The regulatory environment has truly become a Gordian knot, so now we are stepping back and untangling that knot.”

Ms Hume says the government has already moved to reduce the regulatory burden in some areas such as winding up the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority.

But much more remains to be done so that advisers can focus on what they do best instead of worrying about compliance obligations.

“We need to ensure that any regulation is having, is achieving, the desired and intended effect, that it’s doing so also in the most efficient way possible,” Ms Hume said.

“Complex regulations mean that businesses spend more time thinking about regulation than actually doing their job. I think financial advisers know this more than most.”

She says adding layers upon layers of one-size-fits-all regulation hinders more than helps consumers.

“So we need to go back to basics and the Quality of Advice review under a Morrison Government will do exactly this,” Ms Hume said.

“The review will identify opportunities for sensible deregulation to enable advisers to focus on what you do best, providing financial advice to clients.

“The review aims to identify opportunities to streamline and to simplify regulatory compliance, to reduce costs and to remove duplication.”

Treasury consultation over its draft terms of reference for the Quality of Advice Review closed last month. The review, recommended by the Hayne royal commission, will consider whether measures that have been implemented by government, regulators and financial services entities have improved the quality of financial advice.

It will also examine whether further reforms or other changes are needed, and whether any measures or obligations are redundant or can be streamlined.

Peak bodies for advisers have for the last few years been talking about the impact of increased red tape on the sector, one that has led to an exodus of talent and made it more costly for Australians who want advice to manage their financial affairs.

Ms Hume says the Government wants to make sure that the regulatory framework could better enable the provision of high quality, accessible and affordable financial advice for retail investors.

“A lot of that will be about looking at where rules-based regulation can be replaced with principles-based [regulation],” she said.

However, advice group Synchron has cautioned against going for principles-based regulation.

“While principles-based regulation is the ideal destination for how we should be allowed to operate as an industry, we should regard this as a destination that will be arrived at after a bit more of a journey,” GM Compliance Phil Osborne said.

“We need to think of this in terms of the application – whose principles will be applied?”

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