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: New APRA prudential standard raises bar for information security obligations and incident notification requirements

    15 November 2018

    As companies and regulators across the world grapple with ever-increasing cyber security threats, Australia's financial services regulator, APRA, has released the final form of a new prudential standard. It will require APRA-regulated entities to establish and maintain information security controls to protect customer data, and to notify APRA of information security incidents that have, or may have, a material effect on customers' interests. This will have significant implications both for regulated entities and for their boards of directors. Partners Gavin Smith and Simun Soljo and Lawyer James Higgins report.

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  • Unravelled: AFCA's powers and obligations - 'systemic issues'

    13 November 2018

    In his Interim Report, Commissioner Hayne rejected claims that misconduct in the financial services sector was the fault of 'a few bad apples' and did not raise 'broader or systemic concerns'. Commissioner Hayne's comments made me think about AFCA and what it can do (and must do) about 'systemic issues' identified in the course of handling complaints.

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  • Unravelled: The ins and out (goings) of responsible lending

    13 November 2018

    Very broadly speaking, current legislation relating to responsible lending says that a person must not recommend or make an 'unsuitable' loan to a consumer – an unsuitable loan being one that either does not meet the consumer's requirements and objectives, or imposes repayment obligations that they are unable to meet without substantial hardship.

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  • Pulse: Cyber security

    17 October 2018

    In this bulletin, we offer a practical guide for navigating cyber security risks in M&A transactions; examine the obstacles that data breach class actions face in Australia and lessons learned from high profile class actions overseas; explore the prevalence of data breaches in the healthcare sector; track the ongoing effects of Yahoo's 2014 data breach; and consider the debate at home and abroad about whether 'hacking back' against cyber criminals is a viable (and legal) option.

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  • Unravelled: Slater & Gordon begins its superannuation class actions

    11 October 2018

    In our article on competing class actions dated 20 August 2018, we made the fairly obvious observation that the Royal Commission would inevitably prove to be a hot bed for class actions. And in years to come, we will undoubtedly look back on the Royal Commission as a watershed moment in class action history, which, just like the GFC, spawned multiple large and long-running class actions.

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  • Unravelled: Efficiently, honestly and fairly - overarching and fundamental obligations?

    11 October 2018

    In his recent Interim Report into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, Commissioner Hayne makes a lot of the duties of an Australian financial services licensee and an Australian credit licensee to provide financial services or credit activities, as the case may be, efficiently, honestly and fairly.

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  • Unravelled: Royal Commission: Round 1 - experiences with consumer lending practices

    2 October 2018

    In examining the topic of consumer lending, the Commission considered issues arising from the sale of credit products – including residential mortgages, car finance and credit cards - by reference to case studies involving the four major banks as well as Aussie Home Loans and Citi.

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  • Unravelled: Royal Commission: Round 2 - experiences with financial advice

    2 October 2018

    Although the Commissioner says that the Royal Commission is part of the executive and not the judiciary and that he is therefore not able to make any findings of law, he comes pretty close in his views in response to Round 2. And in some important respects, those views do not correspond with conventional views.

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  • Unravelled: Royal Commission: Round 3 – experiences with SME lending

    2 October 2018

    The third round of the Royal Commission's hearings concerned lending practices to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The hearings considered a range of case studies.

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  • Unravelled: Royal Commission: Round 4 – experiences with financial service entities in regional and remote communities

    2 October 2018

    In the Interim Report, the Commissioner identifies four principal issues relating to agricultural lending.

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  • Client Update: Treasury proposes tougher penalties for corporate and financial sector misconduct

    26 September 2018

    The Federal Government has released exposure draft legislation for public consultation that, if enacted, will implement many of the recommendations of the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce to strengthen the penalty regime for corporate and financial sector misconduct. Partner Simun Soljo and Lawyer Roseanna Bricknell take a look at the proposed laws.

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  • Unravelled: Are CCIVS the beginning of the end for the Unit Trust's monopoly?

    19 September 2018

    Avid, or even occasional, readers of Unravelled over the past few years cannot have failed to notice the Federal Government's proposal to introduce two new forms of collective investment vehicle – each a shiny, tax-neutral alternative to the unit trust which (and note the heavy dose of self-interest here) will hopefully lead to a marked reduction in the sleepless nights and migraines resulting from the task of explaining the finer points of trust law to overseas counterparties and their advisers.

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  • Unravelled: Close and continuous monitoring - the new ASIC approach of embedding its officers in banks

    19 September 2018

    ASIC has recently announced a new supervisory approach that involves embedding ASIC officers in the four major banks and AMP. The initial media reporting on this approach suggested that it would involve embedding 'teams of up to 20 agents for weeks at a time to sit with bank staff, drop into meetings and trail the CEO, executives and directors to identify misconduct before it arises.'

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  • Client Update: Competition in electricity and financial services markets - common issues, common solutions?

    30 August 2018

    The level of competition in both the electricity and financial services sectors has been closely scrutinised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Productivity Commission. While there are fundamental differences in market structures in both sectors, the respective commissions have identified common concerns and made common proposals to address those concerns.

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  • Unravelled: Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission alleges significant superannuation misconduct

    27 August 2018

    The list of alleged breaches are divided into breaches of the SIS Act, the Corporations Act and the ASIC Act we consider each of these and what it might mean.

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  • Unravelled: Expert review into fees and costs disclosure - further changes ahead

    20 August 2018

    Many of you will be familiar with the long and tortured history of fees and costs disclosure regulation in Australia. The most recent set of issues can be traced back to 2014, when ASIC tried to address what it considered to be gaps in and inconsistent application of the former regime.

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  • Unravelled: Competing class actions - a problem in need of a solution

    20 August 2018

    As fertile ground for class actions, the Royal Commission has highlighted an ongoing problem with Australia's class action regime – there is no clear, consistent means for resolving competing class actions.

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  • Client Update: Design and distribution of financial products - regulating 'retail product distribution conduct'

    30 July 2018

    The revised exposure draft Bill concerning design and distribution obligations for issuers and distributors of financial products, and new intervention powers for ASIC, includes some modest, yet mostly welcome, changes to the December 2017 exposure draft. Senior Regulatory Counsel Michael Mathieson reports.

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  • Unravelled: Update on the Royal Commission

    19 July 2018

    Have you been wondering what the Royal Commission will make of the numerous witness statements and vast amounts of other information collected from superannuation trustees in recent times? You will find out soon enough. But first, there are some curiosities from the Round Four hearings to consider – including a hint as to what the superannuation hearings will include.

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  • Unravelled: Where we are with superannuation retirement income changes

    19 July 2018

    The Government has slowly been changing the superannuation retirement income system, with the aim of increasing the range of retirement products available to Australians. A number of changes have already been implemented, and more are to come with the proposed 'Comprehensive Income Products for Retirement' (CIPRs) regime. We thought it was a good time to take stock and look ahead.

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  • Unravelled: Australian Financial Complaints Authority: a 'one-stop-shop' for financial dispute resolution

    19 July 2018

    The new Australian Financial Complaints Authority is to replace each of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman in November 2018.

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  • Unravelled: What might the PC review into superannuation mean for fund investments?

    22 June 2018

    The Productivity Commission Draft Report into the Efficiency and Competitiveness of Australia's superannuation system, weighing in at a substantial 549 pages, contains a treasure trove of information on, and analysis of, a wide range of aspects of the industry.

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  • Unravelled: Update on the Royal Commission

    22 June 2018

    A lot has happened since our most recent update. The Royal Commission has published the submissions received from ASIC and industry participants on policy questions posed by Counsel Assisting at the end of the financial advice hearings. And the small business lending hearings have been held.

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  • Client Update: ASIC overhauls AFS licensing relief for foreign financial service providers

    5 June 2018

    The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has released its highly anticipated consultation paper on licensing relief for foreign financial services providers. The said new licensing regime will be broadly in line with that applied to other AFS licensees, but with relief from some provisions of the Australian Corporations Act and the imposition of certain additional tailored licence conditions. Partner Penny Nikoloudis, Senior Associate Jo Ottaway and Law Graduate Tom Lawson report.

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  • Unravelled: 2018-19 Federal Budget - superannuation

    15 May 2018

    The 2018-19 Federal Budget has introduced a number of proposed superannuation-related changes, with a focus on protecting small balances, young members and existing retirees.

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  • Unravelled: Breach reporting by AFS licensees

    15 May 2018

    In the hurly burly of the Royal Commission’s recent hearings concerning financial advice, you may have missed some very important information about breach reporting by AFS licensees contained in the witness statement prepared by Mr Peter Kell, Deputy Chair of ASIC.

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  • Unravelled: Royal Commission update

    15 May 2018

    The hearings in the Financial Services Royal Commission have been compulsory viewing, not only for financial services industry participants and their regulators and professional service providers. The hearings have exposed wide-ranging actual or alleged wrongful conduct that has captured the attention of politicians, media and the general public.

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  • Pulse: Cyber security

    3 May 2018

    In this bulletin, we give you the rundown on proposed reforms to encryption laws; offer a practical guide to cyber insurance; look at APRA's proposal for a cross-industry framework for information security; give tips for fostering a culture of cyber awareness; examine the key findings from the OAIC's first quarterly report under the new Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme; and look at the steps that governments at home and abroad are taking to combat the growing risk of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure.

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  • Focus: ASIC's sanctions and powers to be strengthened

    23 April 2018

    The Federal Government has announced that it proposes to strengthen ASIC's powers, and to increase the severity of penalties (civil and criminal) that can be imposed on individuals and corporations, in line with the ASIC Enforcement Review Taskforce's recommendations. Partner Rachel Nicolson and Senior Overseas Practitioner Chris Kerrigan report.

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  • Unravelled: Draft code of ethics for financial advisers - in need of much more work

    9 April 2018

    You would be hard pressed to find a bigger load of nonsense than the draft code of ethics for financial advisers issued recently by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority.

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  • Unravelled: CCIVs: lost in translation?

    9 April 2018

    The long-awaited Exposure Draft containing the tax treatment of the proposed new corporate collective investment vehicle (CCIV) was released for consultation on 20 December 2017. The CCIV is one of two main proposed solutions to the problem that offshore investors are dissuaded from investing in Australian funds because they do not understand unit trusts. The tax treatment of CCIVs will go a long way to determining their success.

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  • Unravelled: The Royal Commission heats up

    9 April 2018

    The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry is well underway, with its first round of public hearings wrapping up less than a month ago. By reference to a number of case studies, the first round of hearings focused on consumer lending practices. In this article, we report on the key themes identified by the Commission as arising from the hearings.

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  • Focus: Trustee insolvency - the Full Federal Court weighs in to the debate

    29 March 2018

    We recently examined the implications of a Victorian Court of Appeal decision on trustee insolvency in the Amerind Appeal1. As we foreshadowed, the Full Federal Court has just released its decision on similar issues.2 It came to a similar position to the Victorian court in deciding that trust assets should be applied first in paying employees and other statutory preferred creditors (though for varied reasons). But it came to the opposite position in holding that trust assets could only go to trust creditors, not non-trust creditors. That finding will cheer lenders and others dealing with trusts, but leaves a confused landscape. Partner Philip Blaxill, Senior Finance Counsel Diccon Loxton and Associate Lucas Tan report.

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  • Client Update: Parliamentary Committee reports on the life insurance industry

    28 March 2018

    The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services has published its report on the life insurance industry. The report includes a nice summary of previous 'inquiries, reviews, reforms and events' since 2013. The Committee appears to think that all of these previous efforts have been more or less inadequate. Senior Regulatory Counsel Michael Mathieson reports.

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  • Unravelled: Preparing a target market determination for a financial product

    21 March 2018

    As the 'design and distribution' obligations for issuers and distributors of financial products inch closer, there is a good deal of hand-wringing taking place. Much of it concerns what a target market determination should look like. Guidance from the European Securities and Markets Authority on MiFID II provides a sense of what local issuers may be in for. But first - Treasury's proposal.

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  • Unravelled: Personal advice and the best interests duty

    21 March 2018

    There has been a great deal of attention given to the meanings of 'financial product advice' and 'personal advice' in the Corporations Act and many of us are eagerly waiting to see what Justice Gleeson will say about the topic in the case ASIC has brought against the BT trustees. However, whatever Her Honour decides in that case, it is unlikely to help very much, because the line between general advice and personal advice will always turn on the facts and, where the facts change with each interaction with a customer or client, it will continue to be difficult for licensees to be confident that they and their representatives are not giving personal advice. While that is a pity, it is, in my view, a greater pity that more licensees are not prepared to take the plunge and give personal advice. If licensees assumed that their interactions with customers and clients about financial products was personal advice, the difference between general advice and personal advice would not matter much.

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  • Focus: Statutory priority of secured creditors and trustee insolvency: implications of Re Amerind appeal decision

    13 March 2018

    The recent unanimous Victorian Court of Appeal decision1 in an appeal from Re Amerind has been widely welcomed by insolvency practitioners and others, as it brought some clarity to the question of whether the statutory order of priority applies to trust creditors. However, not all aspects of the decision will be as widely welcomed. In particular, in favouring a previous controversial decision of the court suggesting that trust assets should be applied in paying non-trust creditors, the Court of Appeal has resurrected a longstanding debate. Trust creditors and beneficiaries will be concerned if it is followed. Further, though insolvency practitioners and statutory preferred creditors will be generally pleased by the court's adoption of a wide interpretation of what is a 'circulating security interest' for the purpose of determining statutory priorities, it will concern secured creditors. Partner Philip Blaxill, Senior Finance Counsel Diccon Loxton and Associate Lucas Tan reflect on the decision and its ramifications.

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  • Pulse: Cyber security

    21 February 2018

    In this bulletin, we shine a light on the incoming Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme. We assume that with the scheme taking effect this week, you're now across the basics (if not, you can read about them here and here). So, this issue highlights the things you didn't know that you need to know, how to deal with data breaches involving multiple organisations, the key takeaways from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's just-published Data breach preparation and response guide and our quick reference guides to preparing a data breach response plan, determining when you've suffered an eligible data breach and how to notify when you have.

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  • Unravelled: Superannuation reform - the year ahead in 2018

    20 February 2018

    2017 was a busy year in superannuation. The Allens superannuation team takes stock of the legislative and regulatory reform proposals that have been mooted for 2018 and gazes into the crystal ball to see what might lie ahead this year.

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  • Unravelled: Productivity Commission releases draft report on competition in the financial system

    20 February 2018

    The Productivity Commission's draft report on competition in the financial system, released earlier in February, makes 25 draft recommendations, a key focus of which are reforms to the regulatory system. We take you through the key issues and recommendations.

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  • Client Update: Financial advice - vertically integrated institutions and conflicts of interest

    25 January 2018

    ASIC has released its report on financial advice provided by 'vertically integrated institutions', which is likely to be read with great interest by Commissioner Hayne and his team. Senior Regulatory Counsel Michael Mathieson and Partner Michelle Levy report.

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  • Pulse: Cyber security

    22 January 2018

    In this issue, we shine a light on ransomware – what it is, how it works, how much it costs, the continuing effects of recent attacks, and the key considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether to concede to a ransomware hacker’s demands. We also look at how data breaches might trigger a listed company’s continuous disclosure obligations, the OAIC’s investigation into Precedent Communications, and the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s 2017 Threat Report.

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  • Client Update: Financial products - design and distribution obligations and product intervention powers

    22 December 2017

    After a gestation period roughly one-and-a-half times as long as that of an elephant, the proposed new design and distribution obligations for financial products, and intervention powers for ASIC, took their first, tentative steps yesterday, with the release of exposure draft legislation. The consultation period is not so long - you have until 9 February 2018 to make a submission. Senior Regulatory Counsel Michael Mathieson reports.

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  • Unravelled: A Commission of Inquiry - of the Royal, not the Parliamentary, kind

    19 December 2017

    Since the announcement of the Royal Commission into, ahem, financial services, much has been written and said – a lot of which suggests that little attention is being paid to the terms of reference. In this article I take a look at those terms.

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  • Client Update: Strengthening member outcomes in superannuation - APRA's proposals

    15 December 2017

    APRA this week released a discussion paper and draft prudential standards and practice guides. The standards and guides will apply to all RSE licensees from 1 January 2019. As Partner Michelle Levy and Senior Regulatory Counsel Michael Mathieson report, they will lead to significant changes across the superannuation industry.

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  • Client Update: Updated guidance on conflicted remuneration and other banned benefits

    7 December 2017

    Earlier today, ASIC released an updated version of Regulatory Guide 246, concerning conflicted remuneration and other banned benefits such as volume-based shelf-space fees. The changes are largely to address the life insurance remuneration reforms, which take effect on 1 January 2018. But there are other changes too, some of them reasonably significant. Partner Michelle Levy and Senior Regulatory Counsel Michael Mathieson report.

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  • Client Update: BEAR Bill implementation date likely to change

    24 November 2017

    This afternoon, the Senate Standing Committee on Economics released their report on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Banking Executive Accountability and Related Measures) Bill 2017 (BEAR Bill). The Economics Committee recommends that the BEAR Bill be passed but recommends the commencement date be pushed out for 12 months from the date of enactment.

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  • Unravelled: The BEAR has dropped, where to from here?

    9 November 2017

    The commencement date of the BEAR legislation is fast approaching and institutions should start planning how to comply with the regime. We look at the changes made to the BEAR legislation following industry submissions, the timing for implementation and key steps to take.

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  • Unravelled: The beginning of the end of the unit trust's monopoly? CCIV legislation and ASIC guidance

    9 November 2017

    Avid readers of Unravelled over the past few years cannot have failed to notice that there are moves afoot to introduce two new forms of collective investment vehicle, each promising a shiny, tax-neutral alternative to the unit trust and, hopefully, saving Australian lawyers a lot of sleepless nights and migraines attempting to explain the finer points of trust law to overseas counterparties and their advisers.

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  • Client Update: First civil penalty order for breach of FOFA duties

    6 November 2017

    The Federal Court recently imposed a $1 million civil penalty on a licensee for breaches by its representatives of the best interests and appropriate advice duties. The penalties were the same amount that was agreed between ASIC and the licensee. The decision is a reminder to financial services licensees that they are responsible for their advisers' advice and that ASIC can and will take enforcement action against licensees when it identifies breaches of personal advice duties. Partner Michelle Levy, Associate Katie Gardiner and Lawyer Jamil Diu report.

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