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ASIC vows to cut red tape

ASIC has pledged to reduce the red tape associated with compliance, after a survey of investors and financial services providers found dissatisfaction with the corporate regulator’s performance.

Releasing the findings of its stakeholder survey for the first time in three years, ASIC conceded some “perceived limitations” with ASIC’s ability to meet its stated objectives.

The limitations were listed as “acting quickly to investigate breaches of the law, clearly communicating what ASIC is doing, reducing the red tape associated with compliance and being sufficiently resourced to do our job”.

In response to the findings – which came off the back of a survey of 1500 investors and financial services industry stakeholders between February and June this year – ASIC has pledged to act on the areas in which it needs to improve.

“We are aware of the regulatory burden on business and have introduced measures to make things easier where we can,” said ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft, pointing to the national Business Names Register and a “booklet to help small businesses comply with their legal obligations” as examples.

“We are committed to cutting red tape and there are more improvements in the pipeline,” Mr Medcraft added, claiming ASIC will help business by “easing compliance with regulatory requirements or advising government to scrap regulation with no clear purpose”.

However, Mr Medcraft did not make any mention of FOFA or which regulations it feels have no purpose and should be scrapped, other than an undertaking to look at whether “disclosure is the best way to address certain market failures”.

Furthermore, in surveying the stakeholders on its own performance, ASIC also found the need to ask questions about the integrity of the gatekeepers it regulates, including financial advisers. The report found that only around one quarter of respondents thought that advisers and fund managers have integrity.

Financial Planning Association general manager, policy and conduct, Dante De Gori told ifa “it is very strange that they would ask this”, indicating it may be a diversionary tactic on the part of ASIC.

“This report is all about the performance of ASIC and they are under immense pressure at the moment,” Mr De Gori said.

“They have a senate inquiry coming up and they have just had a change of employer ... ASIC are trying very hard to convince everyone and this explains the timing.

"The report was actually positive about access to advice in particular that consumers and investors use of advice. It is proof again that those who use advice trust it and gain value from it."

Do you believe ASIC’s promise to cut red tape? Have your say below