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Westpac backs tougher AFSL regime

ASIC should be more selective about AFSL approvals to ensure only well-resourced organisations are licensed, Westpac has argued in a new Senate submission.

In its submission to the Senate’s ‘scrutiny of financial advice’ inquiry – yet another review of the industry initiated by Labor senator Sam Dastyari in recent weeks – the bank has implored the corporate regulator to beef up its AFSL application process.

“We believe there is scope to further strengthen the licensing process to ensure that only appropriately resourced and well-governed providers are able to obtain an AFSL,” write Westpac executives Mark Spiers and Brett Gale in the submission.

“The role of the licensee is central to consumer protection, trust in advisers and the strength of our regulatory model.”

The submission reflects on the 2012 St John report, calling for ASIC to take a more “proactive approach” to PI insurance and ensuring adequate consumer protection mechanisms are in place.

It also laid out the case for a self-regulatory organisation (SRO) to be created to take over some of ASIC’s traditional responsibilities.

“The SRO would be a new body that has a clear mandate to set and govern professional, ethical and education standards for financial advisers,” the submission states.


It suggests that this organisation will be responsible for issuing practising certificates for advisers, setting professional standards for licensees and examining levels of transparency across the industry.

The establishment of an SRO of this kind would result in a “narrowed” ASIC that would nonetheless “remain crucial”, it suggests, adding that the government’s adviser register could in time also be transferred from the corporate regulator to the SRO.

The SRO should not be there to “lobby or advocate” for advisers, the submission states.