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Advisers' Levy Driven by New Compliance Costs

Advisers' Levy Driven by New Compliance Costs

Financial advisers in Australia are finding themselves under increased financial pressure as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) seeks to raise additional funds through heightened levies for the 2023-24 fiscal year.
A substantial part of this increase is attributed to the establishment of new regulatory frameworks and compliance measures.

The bulk of the additional levy is directed towards the funding of the Compensation Scheme of Last Resort (CSLR), a mechanism aimed to ensure consumers receive compensation owed by financial firms that have failed. Additionally, costs related to the adviser exam and the creation of a single disciplinary body for advisors add to the financial burden.

Further driving up costs is ASIC’s oversight activities regarding choice superannuation products. This has raised eyebrows within the financial advisory community as to why advisers should bear this specific administrative cost, which arguably involves superannuation funds as a key component of the equation.

ASIC has broken down these costs, itemizing the components being billed to advisors. This includes:

  • CSLR implementation
  • Choice superannuation products oversight
  • Adviser examination and registration
  • Compliance for SMSF (Self-Managed Super Funds) establishment advice
  • The newly structured single disciplinary body system

Moreover, financial advisers will share additional regulatory costs with other financial advice sub-sectors. These costs encompass several areas including ASIC’s cyber resilience initiatives, breach reporting mechanisms, the employment of artificial intelligence, dispute resolution processes, penalties for the non-lodgement of financial reports, enforcement against unlicensed financial advice, and restrictions on cold-calling for superannuation switching.

Critics argue that the levy structure places an undue financial load on advisers for areas where other stakeholders, such as superannuation funds and accountants, significantly contribute and should possibly share responsibility. For example, the costs associated with SMSF establishment advice compliance are shared more equitably between accountants and advisers, reflecting their respective roles.

On a positive note, costs associated with combating unlicensed financial advice and cold-calling superannuation switching will be distributed across all financial advisory sub-sectors rather than being shouldered solely by individual advisers.

Financial advisers looking to understand the reasoning behind their increased ASIC levy can refer to the detailed breakdown provided by ASIC. According to ASIC's figures, the overall regulation cost for the financial advice sector for 2022-23 sat at $47.6 million, which is poised to rise to $48.4 million in 2023-24.

The need for these measures, while increasing costs in the short term, is part of an effort to create a more robust and fairer financial advisory industry, aiming to benefit consumers and professionals alike by ensuring higher standards and better protection mechanisms.

Source: ASIC Bulletin

Published:Wednesday, 10th Jul 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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