Allens

Financial Services Regulation

We regularly publish articles on topical financial services (and related) matters. These publications contain commentary and analysis to help financial services providers and other industry professionals keep up-to-date with and have a better understanding of the complex and challenging issues in Australian financial services regulation.

The full list of our publications appears below. If you would like to be notified when we add new financial services publications to the site, please go to our subscription page to sign up for email alerts.

For more information, see also our Financial Services Regulation pages and, in particular, our Breaking News section which is updated regularly for current developments.

Financial Services Regulation Publications

  • Focus: The Asia Region Funds Passport begins to take shape

    17 October 2017

    It's been a busy few months for the development of the Asia Region Funds Passport. In late August, the Federal Government released exposure draft legislation to accommodate the introduction of the Passport in Australia. Once implemented, the Passport will allow fund managers from participating economies to market and sell interests in qualifying funds to retail investors in other passport jurisdictions within a streamlined regulatory framework. Partner Penny Nikoloudis, Senior Associate Rebecca Sheehy and Associate Mai Go report on the proposed multilateral regulatory framework for the Passport and some of the issues arising from the exposure draft legislation. 

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  • Pulse: Cyber security

    16 October 2017

    In this issue we look at how to create a cyber resilient supply chain, ASIC's renewed focus on cyber resilience, how the incoming GDPR could affect you, medical device cyber security and patient safety, lessons learnt from Yahoo's data breach disaster and Australia and the EU's new cyber security plans.

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  • Unravelled: Pseudo-investments and mobile apps - a new frontier for regulators

    4 October 2017

    It is hardly surprising that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has taken an interest in the mobile app market, given that there has been an aggressive expansion into the mobile space by financial services providers. ASIC has recently cracked down on web and mobile based OTC derivative providers, and apps that facilitate binary options trading (BOT apps). In this article, we focus on issues that arise in connection with BOT apps.

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  • Unravelled: FX global code update

    4 October 2017

    The FX Global Code was launched in Australia earlier this year and applies to 'market participants', including most financial institutions, bank asset managers, brokers and E-trading platforms. The Code sets out 55 best practice principles and, although compliance is voluntary, it is expected that these principles will become the standard for the FX market industry.

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  • Unravelled: Spring overhaul of Australia's market licensing regime

    4 October 2017

    Australia's market licensing regime has long been crying out for an overhaul, with regulatory guidance that largely dates back to the early 2000s struggling in the face of significant developments in financial markets since then. Fortunately, ASIC has taken heed and is due to release an updated market licensing regulatory guide this month. If the draft guidance is anything to go by, we should soon see a much more modern and flexible approach to market licensing.

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  • Client Update: Blockchain reaction update - ASIC joins chorus on ICO regulation

    3 October 2017

    While ASIC has published information on the issue of coins or tokens in initial coin offerings, other regulators around the world have also been issuing guidance, with some taking a much more restrictive approach. Although Australia remains a relatively friendly regulatory environment for such offerings, there are a number of potential regulatory traps, both here and overseas, that issuers should carefully consider before launch. Managing Associate Simun Soljo, Senior Associate David Rountree and Lawyer Chris Walsh report.

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  • Client Update: The BEAR roars into action

    26 September 2017

    The Federal Government has released the exposure draft of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Banking Executive Accountability and Related Measures) Bill, together with a draft Explanatory Memoradum. This follows on from the release of the Banking Executive Accountability Regime (BEAR) consultation paper in July which raised eyebrows with its short three-week consultation period. The exposure draft only provides five working days for interested parties to lodge a submission. This is a clear indication of the Government's desire to implement BEAR swiftly. Partner Michelle Levy and Senior Associates Sarah Burgemeister and Brenton Pollard report.

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  • Unravelled: APRA's new powers in superannuation - A worthy idea, but checks and balances required

    12 September 2017

    APRA is in line to get significantly increased powers of direction in respect of RSE licensees and their 'controlled entities' as part of the package of superannuation reforms announced in the Treasury Legislation Amendment (Improving Accountability and Member Outcomes in Superannuation) Bill 2017.

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  • Unravelled: Extraordinary new power proposed for APRA

    12 September 2017

    The exposure draft of the Financial Sector Legislation Amendment (Crisis Resolution Powers and Other Measures) Bill 2017, will, if passed, give new powers to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority in relation to the authorised non-operating holding company and other related bodies corporate of APRA-regulated entities (including foreign regulated entities).

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  • Pulse: Cyber security

    5 September 2017

    In our first issue we look at the outcome of the OAIC's investigation into the Australian Red Cross data breach, lessons learnt from one of the largest cyber attacks in history, directors' liability in relation to cyber resilience, the incoming mandatory data breach notification regime, the NSW Government's recent $11.4 million investment to help tackle critical technology challenges including cyber security, and the Federal Government's new mission to decode cyber vernacular

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  • Unravelled: Productivity Commission on super system competitiveness and efficiency

    7 August 2017

    With all the media attention on the Government's surprise announcement of its proposed package on improving accountability and member outcomes in super last week, you would be forgiven if the Productivity Commission's latest issues paper on competitiveness and efficiency in the super system had slipped under your radar.

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  • Unravelled: Approved product lists and FoFA adviser duties

    7 August 2017

    The FoFA duties that apply to personal advice given to retail clients have been operating for over four years now. ASIC has enjoyed some recent success in the courts in cases brought on the basis of those duties. In this context, it is worth revisiting approved product lists and whether they assist, or impair, compliance with the FoFA duties.

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  • Unravelled: Australian Government proposes new foreign bribery offences

    7 August 2017

    Australia's lack of enforcement of foreign bribery legislation has attracted increasing criticism in recent years, but the Federal Government is expected to soon table legislation proposing wide-ranging reforms. We look at two key proposed changes for Australian companies.

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  • Client Update: Improving accountability and member outcomes in superannuation?

    25 July 2017

    The Federal Government's proposed new superannuation legislation imposes significant new obligations on RSE licensees and could have a material effect on shareholders. The Allens Superannuation team reports on the key changes.

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  • Client Update: Grizzly times ahead for banks

    14 July 2017

    A consultation paper on the BEAR has been released, confirming the Federal Government’s intention to impose an executive accountability regime on banks and their subsidiaries that follows important elements of current international accountability regimes. You have three weeks to provide your comments to the Government. Partner Michelle Levy, Senior Associate Sarah Burgemeister and Associate Katie Gardiner report.

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  • Unravelled: UK's ASIC's report on member experience of superannuation - ASIC continues to set a high bar

    6 July 2017

    ASIC Report 529: Member experience of superannuation, released just a day before the Productivity Commission officially sets its sights on assessing the state of the superannuation system, serves as a timely reminder of the ever-increasing expectations of the conduct and disclosure practices of superannuation trustees.

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  • Unravelled: UK's Financial Conduct Authority report into asset management: guidance for future direction

    6 July 2017

    ASIC often looks to overseas regulators for inspiration. So when a particularly influential regulator publishes a comprehensive report about a large segment of its regulated population, including possible new areas for regulation, it can pay to take note because it may be a guide to the future direction of Australian regulation.

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  • Unravelled: Raising capital, raising standards: managing conflicts of interest in sell-side research and corporate advisory

    6 July 2017

    ASIC continues its mission to enhance the regulation of Australia's equity markets, with its recent publication of Consultation Paper 290 on managing conflicts of interest when dealing with sell-side research and corporate advisory. The proposed amendments will primarily target investment banks and corporate advisers in the IPO and capital raising process.

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  • Unravelled: 2017 Budget: increased scrutiny on competition in the financial system

    7 June 2017

    The financial services sector has been under scrutiny for some time with many different voices clamouring for further regulation or inquiries in a sector that is already highly regulated. The recent Federal Budget included a number of measures focused on the state of competition in the financial system, and provided a road map for a significant amount of activity over the next few years. Partner Carolyn Oddie reports.

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  • Unravelled: Can super really help housing affordability (and I have not asked should it)?

    7 June 2017

    The 2017 Budget included proposals intended to 'reduce pressure on housing affordability'. Two of them use the superannuation system to do so: the 'First Home Super Saver Scheme' and the 'Reducing Barriers to Downsizing' proposal. Partner Michelle Levy examines the schemes in more detail.

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  • Unravelled: Banks set to grin and BEAR new measures to improve individual accountability

    7 June 2017

    As part of its ongoing efforts to improve the domestic banking sector's accountability, the Federal Government recently announced a series of measures to join the ongoing global push seeking to improve measures for individual accountability for misconduct. The proposed Banking Executives Accountability Regime (BEAR) seeks to ensure that banks, and their senior management, are held accountable when they fail to meet expectations. Senior Associate Sarah Burgemeister reports.

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  • Focus: Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing: Key questions for boards and executives in 2017

    16 May 2017

    Australian boards and senior executives are expected to maintain oversight of risk and compliance issues including bribery, sanctions, human rights and anti-money laundering. In-house counsel perform a central role in supporting this oversight and maintaining compliance. In the fourth of a five-part series, Partner Peter Haig and Associates Andrew Shetliffe and Glyn Ayres look at the key questions that Australian boards and senior executives should be asking about anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing in 2017.

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  • Client Update: 2017 Budget: increased scrutiny on competition and accountability in the financial system

    10 May 2017

    Treasurer Scott Morrison this week announced that he has tasked the Productivity Commission to review the state of competition in Australia's financial system. The Budget has also included other measures focused on competition in the financial sector, including funding to establish a dedicated ACCC unit to undertake regular inquiries into specific financial system competition issues, an ACCC inquiry into residential mortgage pricing, and an open banking regime. The Government has also announced the introduction of a Banking Executive Accountability Regime. These measures follow a series of recent reviews and inquiries into the financial services industry. Partner Carolyn Oddie and Senior Associate Lisa Lucak report.

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  • Unravelled: CIPRs - some interesting findings

    5 May 2017

    We recently hosted some workshops in Sydney and Melbourne to discuss the proposed CIPR framework. The outcomes of those workshops were interesting - in some respects surprising - and this article provides a brief report.

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  • Unravelled: Recent decision on FoFA advice provisions - ASIC v NSG

    5 May 2017

    The recent case of ASIC v NSG Services Pty Ltd considers the FoFA best interests and appropriate advice provisions, as well as obligations of licensees. While the facts of the case provide an extreme example of how advisers and licensees can fail to comply with these duties, it also provides some useful judicial commentary on the provisions.

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  • Unravelled: Reporting significant breaches - or something that may (or may not) be a breach?

    5 May 2017

    The Taskforce established by Treasury to consider ASIC's enforcement powers released its first consultation paper a few weeks ago on breach reporting. We examine the most significant of the Taskforce's 12 'preliminary positions'.

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  • Unravelled: ASIC's report on financial advice

    7 April 2017

    ASIC has recently released a report about its work with the big four banks and AMP on adviser misconduct. The report is essentially an update on the progress of ASIC's Wealth Management Project, and mostly contains information we already know. The most interesting part deals with the results of ASIC's review of adviser audit processes by the banks and AMP. They indicate that internal audits are not identifying compliance issues.

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  • Unravelled: A step closer to industry funding of ASIC

    7 April 2017

    Last week, the Federal Government moved another step closer to implementing an industry funding model for the recovery of ASIC's costs, by introducing the ASIC Supervisory Cost Recovery Levy Bill 2017 (as well as two related Bills) into Parliament. These Bills implement the recommendations of the Financial Services Inquiry and the Senate Economics Committee that ASIC be industry funded, and follows a number of rounds of industry consultation on exposure drafts and proposal papers.

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  • Client Update: Productivity Commission's proposed alternate default models for superannuation

    30 March 2017

    In the latest (and undoubtedly most significant) of its reports into the design of default superannuation arrangements in Australia, the Productivity Commission yesterday released its Draft Report in relation to Superannuation: Alternative Default Models. Partner Geoff Sanders of the Allens Superannuation team reports on how the Draft Report moves the Commission's thinking forward in relation to how default contributions might be allocated to superannuation products in the years to come.

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  • Client Update: Innovative Superannuation Income Streams - at last

    21 March 2017

    Earlier today, Treasury released exposure draft regulations for 'Innovative Superannuation Income Streams'. They set out income stream standards that will be relevant for products such as deferred annuities and group self-annuitised products. The Allens Superannuation team reports.

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  • Unravelled: Clearing the way for social impact investing

    10 March 2017

    The Commonwealth Treasury is seeking feedback on how to kickstart social impact investment in Australia.

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  • Unravelled: Consumer protection in the banking, insurance and financial sector

    10 March 2017

    The Senate Economics References Committee is conducting an inquiry into the regulatory framework for the protection of consumers in the banking, insurance and financial services sector.

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  • Unravelled: English High Court provides important guidance on approach to LIBOR mis-selling claims

    7 February 2017

    The English High Court has handed down its judgment on the first major case following the global regulatory investigations into alleged LIBOR manipulation.

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  • Unravelled: Retail banking remuneration review

    7 February 2017

    The Australian Bankers' Association last year commissioned Stephen Sedgwick to undertake a review of remuneration in retail banking.

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  • Unravelled: Improving external dispute resolution schemes - rather odd recommendations

    7 February 2017

    It is difficult to describe the interim recommendations of the Expert Panel reviewing the 'financial system external dispute resolution and complaints framework' as anything other than odd.

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  • Unravelled: Mandatory margining

    7 February 2017

    Late last year, APRA released the implementation schedule for its long-awaited Prudential Standard CPS 226 Margining and risk mitigation for non-centrally cleared derivatives.

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  • Client Update: ASIC announces fintech licensing exemptions

    19 December 2016

    As part of its implementation of the 'regulatory sandbox' for fintech companies, ASIC is providing relief for certain fintech businesses from the obligation to hold an Australian financial services or Australian credit licence. Relief may be available for up to 12 months and may be useful to businesses in what ASIC refers to as the 'testing' stage of their development. ASIC has also made some changes to the responsible manager requirements for licensees, which may be particularly useful to 'robo advice' providers. Managing Associate Simun Soljo and Associate Jonathan Gardner report.

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  • Client Update: A framework for CIPRs or just more work for super trustees?

    16 December 2016

    Yesterday, Treasury released a paper seeking feedback on a framework for Comprehensive Income Products for Retirement (CIPRs). It will permit trustees to offer members on a 'soft default' basis 'mass-customised, composite retirement income products' and, to encourage trustees to do what some might think they can already do, trustees will have no liability to a member who sues them because the CIPR was not in the best interests of the member. It is all most surprising, and for trustees it is a whole new kettle of fish. CIPRs are meant to be available from 1 July 2018, but there is a long way between the cup and the sip as they say and we suspect much of it won't make it into law. The Allens superannuation team reports.

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  • Client Update: Product design and distribution rules

    13 December 2016

    On 13 December 2016, Treasury released a paper seeking feedback on the proposed financial product design and distribution obligations, and proposed product intervention powers for ASIC. The proposals are intended to 'create new accountability obligations' for product issuers and distributors. On one view, it is a brave new world, on another, it is just more of the same. Which it turns out to be, we think, will depend on what product issuers make of it and what ASIC does with it. Industry has until March 2017 to make submissions on the detail, it is unlikely that more substantial objections to the policies will be successful. The Financial Services Regulation team report.

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  • Unravelled: Budget superannuation changes passed

    9 December 2016

    The Government's main changes to superannuation have been passed by Parliament. We look at what this means for the superannuation industry (and for you).

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  • Unravelled: Seeking judicial advice on whether to seek judicial advice

    9 December 2016

    For more than 150 years trustees have been able to obtain advice from courts on matters affecting the management or administration of trust property and on matters respecting the interpretation of trust deeds. Trustees would usually only seek such advice, however, if they had doubts about a proposed course of action.

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  • Unravelled: Insourcing investment management in super - challenges and opportunities for in-house teams

    9 December 2016

    With the release of an ASFA Best Practice Paper on insourcing investment management, we look at some of the challenges and opportunities for in-house legal teams that come with the seemingly inexorable move in the superannuation industry towards insourcing investment management functions.

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  • Client Update: Updated fee and cost disclosure - transition period extended

    29 November 2016

    ASIC has today announced that superannuation fund trustees and responsible entities will have until 1 October 2017 to comply with the updated fee and cost disclosure rules for PDSs set out in ASIC Regulatory Guide 97 and ASIC Class Order 14/1252 - but only if they comply with certain conditions. Partner Geoff Sanders and Senior Associate Stephanie Malon report.

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  • Client Update: Successor Fund Transfers - all aboard!

    25 November 2016

    APRA yesterday released a draft guide on transferring a member's benefit from one superannuation fund to another without their consent. Because the member is not consenting, the law says that the receiving fund must, when compared with the existing fund, confer 'equivalent rights' in respect of benefits. APRA has interpreted this requirement narrowly. If APRA is correct, the requirement provides little, if any, protection to superannuation fund members. Senior Regulatory Counsel Michael Mathieson and Partner Michelle Levy report.

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  • Client Update: Review into four major banks - money for consultants?

    25 November 2016

    The Parliamentary Economics Committee released its report following its review into Australia's four major banks yesterday. Our Financial Services Regulation team has a look at the recommendations in this update.

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  • Focus: Road map to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing reform

    4 November 2016

    The Federal Attorney-General's Department has released its draft Project Plan for the implementation of the wide-ranging recommendations arising from the recent statutory review of Australia's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime. Partner Peter Haig, Associate Andrew Shetliffe and Lawyer Russ Marshall report.

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  • Unravelled: Life insurance, conflicted remuneration and commissions

    3 November 2016

    The Bill to amend the conflicted remuneration provisions in the Corporations Act for life insurance has been introduced into Parliament a second time and draft regulations have been released for comment. However, we struggle to know how to describe them because the changes seem to have conflicting purposes.

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  • Unravelled: Risk culture - 'an evolving area of supervisory practice'

    3 November 2016

    A director of a bank, life company or general insurer who read APRA's recent information paper on risk culture could be excused for indulging in a wry smile. Since mid-2015 he or she has been subject to legislative obligations concerning risk culture. However, the information paper suggests that APRA is still working out what risk culture is and how to assess it.

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  • Unravelled: The ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce unloaded

    3 November 2016

    The ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce members and terms of reference have been announced. The terms of reference are very broad and come as no surprise, with an emphasis on evaluating the adequacy of ASIC's enforcement toolkit. We analyse the key themes that are likely to emerge.

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  • Client Update: Financial advice and fees - ASIC reports

    27 October 2016

    ASIC released its report Financial advice: Fees for no service today. It says that there has been a systemic failure by advice licensees within some of the major banks and AMP to provide ongoing advice in return for ongoing fees. The report relates chiefly to arrangements between licensees and clients when the law still permitted product issuers to pay trail commissions. ASIC says that FOFA, specifically the opt-in and annual fee disclosure requirements, will substantially reduce the likelihood of similar systemic failures recurring, but then concludes that the advice industry 'may still have a culture of reliance on ongoing trail revenue (through commissions and fees) for a portion of their income, without necessarily providing advice to customers in return'. It is not clear why ASIC thinks that FOFA won't break that reliance. Partner Michelle Levy, Senior Regulatory Counsel Michael Mathieson and Managing Associate Simun Soljo report.

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