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‘Time is right’ for adviser MDA operation

Despite ASIC’s concerns about managed discretionary accounts (MDAs), a financial services lawyer has assured advisers that they can be comfortable operating these structures under the existing regime.

The Fold’s managing director Claire Wivell Plater said with ASIC’s proposed changes to MDA requirements on hold for a “considerable time”, financial planners are able to include them in their “suite of service offerings” at least until 2016 when the current Class Order may lapse.

“Even if formal changes do occur before 2016, there would need to be a reasonable transition period for limited MDA operators to obtain ASIC authorisation,” Ms Wivell Plater said in a statement issued yesterday.

“This could be up to two years, so it’s a reasonable bet that advisers who start now would have the required three years’ experience by the time they need to apply to be Responsible Managers [under] a ‘limited’ MDA licence – if and when the mooted changes proceed.”

Ms Wivell Plater said advisers' attraction to MDAs stems from the “operational efficiencies” they offer.

“There is no need to obtain a client’s consent in advance to simply rebalance a portfolio… provided advisers can operate them efficiently, MDA services can be an excellent way for advisers to add value,” she said.

However, Ms Wivell Plater has also warned advised practitioners to have a fall-back position in case the limited MDA regime came to an “abrupt halt”.


“ASIC has made it clear that it’s worried about MDAs, because of the potential for fraud and overtrading,” she said.