Our clients often come to us seeking advice on the application of the law or regulatory requirements.
The topics of greatest interest recently have included conflicted remuneration and other ‘FOFA’ developments, fees and costs disclosure, online financial calculators, superannuation forecasts, and the impact of the privacy legislation on marketing initiatives and the construction of provisions in governing documents (trust deeds, constitutions etc).
Licensing (ASIC and APRA)
Generally, a business that provides financial services must hold an Australian Financial Services Licence (issued by ASIC). And a business that wishes to act as trustee of a complying superannuation fund (excluding a self-managed superannuation fund), must hold an RSE Licence (issued by APRA).
You generally require an Australian Financial Services Licence if you provide financial product advice, deal in a financial product, operate a managed investment scheme or provide other prescribed services.
Existing exemptions that allow accountants to give advice about self-managed superannuation funds without holding a licence will expire on 1 July 2016. Accountants wishing to continue providing such advice after that date will need an Australian Financial Services Licence. To facilitate this, a new “limited AFS licence” was introduced that authorises the licensee to give advice about self-managed superannuation funds and prescribed related matters. Recognised accountants who apply before 30 June 2016 can take advantage of transitional arrangements which involve reduced “organisational competence” requirements (ie recognised accountants are required to satisfy the knowledge requirements only and do not need to demonstrate experience).
We can assist with the entire process including the development (and review) of the underlying policies and procedures that need to be put in place (and maintained) to prove to the regulator that you can satisfy the regulatory requirements.
Where appropriate, we can engage our Network Associate, ReliabilityHouse, a specialist in risk management, compliance and governance to provide a comprehensive solution to your licensing, risk and compliance implementation needs.
Fund & Scheme Registration
To be eligible for tax concessions, superannuation funds must be registered.
The Corporations Act characterises managed investment scheme as “registered” or “unregistered” schemes. Depending on the circumstances, some schemes must be registered before being offered to investors.
Registration of a superannuation fund or managed investment scheme also involves consideration of the applicable licensing requirements.
We assist clients with the registration process and in preparing all of the policies and procedures that licensees must have in place before registering a fund or scheme. And our Network Associate, ReliabilityHouse can assist with your risk management and compliance implementation needs.
Establishment of IDPSs and MDAs
We assist clients to establish IDPSs and MDAs. This includes providing assistance with obtaining the necessary AFSL authorisations, preparing the necessary documentation, reviewing agreements with outsourced service providers and assisting with the preparation of the policies and procedures that need to be in place in order to obtain the necessary AFSL authorisations. And our Network Associate, ReliabilityHouse can assist with your risk management and compliance implementation needs.
APRA’s Prudential Requirements introduced an additional layer of regulation, many of which overlap to some extent.
Whether you are seeking comfort that your policies and procedures comply with the Prudential Standards or Prudential Practice Guides, we can help.
We have also developed tools to help APRA regulated licensees prove that they comply with the Prudential Requirements.
Businesses must have policies and procedures in place to ensure that they collect, hold and use personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act.
These obligations are not new. However, the changes to the Privacy Act that came into force in 2014 included some changes that can have a significant impact on the content of privacy policies and practices (in particular, in relation to marketing activities and outsourced handling of an organisation’s personal information). For more information about the impact of privacy reforms on marketing initiatives, refer to this article.
We provide advice on all aspects of privacy law. We also offer an audit package that includes an audit of compliance with privacy principles.
The financial services industry is affected significantly by the AML/CTF regime and all of the compliance burdens that come with it. We regularly advise clients on their programs, reporting obligations and record keeping obligations. We also provide training to ensure businesses and their staff understand their obligations.
Board and Fund Governance
Governance describes the framework of rules, relationships, systems and processes within and by which authority is exercised and controlled within an organisation.
Working in conjunction with with our Network Associate, ReliabilityHouse, we are ideally placed to advise and assist our clients to develop and implement appropriate governance frameworks that reflect the expectations of the relevant stakeholders.
We appreciate that one size does not fit all, particularly when it comes to governance, and that any framework must take into account the size, complexity and culture of the organisation.