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NAB investigation an ASIC top priority

Assistant treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the corporate regulator has indicated further scrutiny of NAB’s financial planning business is of “utmost importance”.

In an exclusive interview with ifa, the assistant treasurer dismissed calls for a royal commission coming from the parliamentary backbench – including from Coalition colleague Senator John Williams – saying the financial advice industry is being sufficiently monitored.

“We have no plans for a royal commission but have responses to a number of inquiries – FSI, PJC and the ASIC inquiry,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“We are looking at strengthening the powers of ASIC in a number of areas and I have spoken to the head of ASIC about the most recent episode at NAB and he said those investigations are of utmost importance.”

The comments follow NAB Wealth group executive Andrew Hagger telling Senate Estimates that the corporate regulator began its investigation after indentifying a shortfall between the number of sacked NAB advisers reported in the press and the smaller number of breach reports filed with ASIC. 

On the topic of FOFA, Mr Frydenberg said that while the government was disappointed to lose the parliamentary fight, it will not be re-introducing the amendment legislation any time soon.

“We put forward our argument, it didn’t go through the Senate and we’re not about to go and re-litigate it,” he said.

“The important message is that stakeholders – who are affected by these reforms and who often have a good story to tell – continue to tell it, not just within the room, but also outside the room to the broader public.”

The minister said FOFA had been “instructive on a number of levels”, and reiterated the Coalition’s long-term position that while the reforms were necessary, Labor’s legislation is “overzealous” and will push up compliance costs, thereby reducing access to financial advice.