The adviser register industry working group has finalised a draft of its report to the government, revealing it intends to make a number of controversial recommendations.
The working draft – seen by ifa – makes 10 recommendations, the culmination of weeks of debate among the various financial services lobbyists and association representatives that make up the government’s working group in meetings in Sydney over recent weeks.
Recommendation one states that the objective of the register should be to “improve transparency and empower consumers to validate their financial adviser”, with the secondary motive of “assisting licensees and ASIC to track disreputable advisers”.
With a philosophical starting point of “transparency”, the working draft to government also recommends that the register contain 10 key facts about an adviser from the outset of its establishment, including “current licensee”, “licensee history of at least five years” and “detail on what products the adviser is authorised to provide advice in”.
Despite what ifa understands were a number of vocal opponents to the proposal, the working draft also recommends the government includes information on “independence and ultimate ownership” of an adviser and their licensee.
“There has been significant consolidation in the sector in recent years,” the draft explains.
“Today, five advice conglomerates now control more than half of the market. This has resulted in a situation where financial advisers, product providers and investment platforms are becoming more interdependent.”
Specifically, the register should include information on the “ultimate holding company” of a licensee, if that holding company “owned more than 51 per cent of the licensee company”.
Other recommendations include that licensees be responsible for updating information and that “consideration should be given as to whether it would be appropriate for a civil penalty regime to be established in lieu of the current penalty regime”.
With the contentious question of AFSL ownership information aside, the draft reveals that the issue of whether to include information on “adviser qualifications” and “professional association membership” has not been resolved, with the working group committing to provide recommendations on this topic by March 2015.
The group will wait for the outcomes of the FSI and implementation of the initial register before making recommendations on whether the register should include information on “further licensee history, remuneration models and fee structures, links to disclosure documents, information on registered tax agents and employer information”, the draft states.
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