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Frydenberg finalises register details

Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has released the details of the government’s register of financial advisers, laying out new obligations for licensees and authorised reps.

The Corporations Amendment (Register of Relevant Providers) Regulation 2015 – which was signed into law by the governor-general Peter Cosgrove last Thursday 12 February and made public yesterday – is the final say on the register, which will launch on March 31.

It amends the original legislation to require that the “controllers of body corporate licensees” provide information about associated providers of financial product advice, such as employees and authorised representatives.

Licensees will be obliged to provide information about the relevant products an individual is permitted to provide advice on, as well as details of “recent advising history”, education and “membership (if any) of professional bodies”.

They will also be obliged to notify ASIC when there is a change in adviser details or licensee ownership, with penalties in place for failing to comply.

The register itself will contain all of the measures previously announced following the ill-fated deal between the government and the Palmer United Party, including any relevant banning orders or disqualifications as well as qualifications and memberships.

However, the regulations have also introduced two new elements replacing the controversial proposal to include “details around ownership of the financial services licensee and disclosure of the ultimate parent company where applicable”.

Instead, the register will contain details of “each person who controls” the licensee and the ABNs of associated entities.

“Control” is defined in the Corporations Act as having either “more than one half” of the votes that might be cast at a general meeting of the licensee, directly or indirectly holding more than one half of the issued share capital of the licensee or the capacity to control the composition of the licensee’s board or to determine the outcome of decisions affecting its operational policies.

Speaking to ifa, Minter Ellison partner Richard Batten confirmed that while the wording has been changed since former acting assistant treasurer Mathias Cormann announced the proposed register contents, it will have the same effect of more explicitly disclosing AFSL ownership.

"The control requirement would require the register to state the ultimate holding company of the adviser's licensee," Mr Batten said. "If the licensee is owned by a bank it would seem to require not only the bank to be named but also each other company between the bank and the licensee in the corporate structure."

Inclusion of AFSL ownership details was one of the more contentious issues debated by the Industry Working Group, made up of representatives of the FPA, AFA, AIOFP, IFAAA and the industry funds and banking sector lobbies among others.