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Senate passes bill for technical FOFA changes

The Senate has passed a new FOFA bill that would extend the timeframe advisers have to send opt-in notices and fee disclosure statements to their clients.

In a statement, Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer said the Corporations Amendment (Financial Advice Measures) Bill received bipartisan support.

"The bill includes an extension of the timeframe for advisers to send renewal opt-in notices and fee disclosure statements to retail clients from 30 to 60 days," Ms O'Dwyer said.

"This should enable the industry to properly prepare and quality assure these documents and for consumers to make an assessment of the value of the advice services provided."

Ms O'Dwyer added that FOFA should now be considered "settled and given time to work."

AFA chief executive Brad Fox said he would also like to see the period of clients to return their opt-in notices increase from 30 to 60 days as a "further practical improvement" to the legislation.

"Presently, consumers remain at risk of inadvertently not returning an opt-in notice before the deadline through travel, health, bereavement or other issues," Mr Fox said in a statement. 


"To reinstate their relationship with their adviser will come at an additional cost to them for what could be a simple oversight. We will keep this on our reform agenda." 

Other government initiatives are focussed on improving the quality and accessibility of financial advice, as announced in the government's response to the Murray Financial System Inquiry, Ms O'Dwyer said.

"Legislation to establish a new framework for the professional, ethical and education standards of financial advisers will be introduced before July next year," she said.

"These higher standards will place financial advice on a similar footing to other professions and, in doing so, increase consumer trust and confidence in the sector."

The government will also consult "extensively" next year on what can be done to make the issuers and distributors of financial products accountable for their offerings, Ms O'Dwyer said.

"We will be consulting extensively next year on the introduction of a product design and distribution obligation and a new product intervention power for ASIC," she said.