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Licensees to step up self-regulation

A number of senior dealer group executives have agreed that licensees need to play a bigger role in advice industry regulation, in the wake of cuts to ASIC’s budget.

At a roundtable event in Sydney last week to mark the release of Lonsec’s white paper on “co-regulation” of the financial product advice chain, dealer group bosses from across the spectrum were asked what role their organisations should play in raising industry standards.

Reflecting on Lonsec’s proposition that traditional government responses to advice regulation have failed, Paragem managing director Ian Knox floated the notion of a licensee association.

“Everyone always seem to blame advisers for what’s wrong in the industry and the role the professional associations should play, but what about consistent licensee standards?” Mr Knox asked.

“Let’s level the playing field and have a code of conduct at licence level that introduces ethical non-conflicted behaviour across the industry.”

Paul Harding-Davis of Premium Wealth Management concurred with Mr Knox, arguing that “licensees can do a lot more” and that the peripheral supervision of advisers by licensees at present is an “awkward model”.

Steve Helmich of AMP Financial Planning– a former FPA and Financial Planning Standards Board chair – agreed that “licensees can set the standard”, but also said that the ultimate responsibility for raising standards lies with the professional associations and individual practitioners.

Wayne Handley of non-aligned licensee Bombora Advice said that all stakeholders need to “assume some ownership and take a leadership position”, adding that the vacuum left by ASIC due to decreased funding presents the opportunity for a “coalition of the willing”.