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ASIC four-year plan highlights rising financial scrutiny

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) four-year plan says the financial sector is facing unprecedented scrutiny and the corporate world needs to rebuild trust.

Chairman James Shipton says priorities outlined in the plan for this year have been developed as the Hayne royal commission highlights the harm unlawful and unethical conduct can inflict on consumers and investors.

“ASIC expects financial sector firms to adopt a culture of professionalism from the very top of the organisation right through to the frontline in order to win back community trust,” Mr Shipton says.

“Equally, it is important for ASIC to demonstrate professional values and to be held to account.”

The focus in the plan’s first year is on potential technology harms; poor culture and professionalism; culture, governance and incentives that can hurt markets; practices that target the vulnerable; misalignment of products with consumer needs; and increased global uncertainty.

The corporate plan includes a new “threat, harm and behaviour” framework to better identify and prioritise action.

ASIC says it is expecting rapid changes to its operating environment over the next four years, with recommendations expected to flow from the royal commission and other inquiries.

A list of projects shows a focus on the sale of add-on insurance through car dealerships will be expanded from last year, while a new taskforce will be established to identify and pursue corporate governance failings in large listed companies across all sectors.

ASIC also says recent divestments of life insurance and wealth management business, as firms move away from vertically integrated business models, will change the competitive dynamic in these sectors.

Click here to see the plan.