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Advisers back Canberra’s move to kill off FASEA

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Key peak bodies have expressed support for the Morrison Government’s decision to wind up the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) and introduce other measures that will reduce red tape.

The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA) say the moves would help the industry address rising operating costs, part of which are due to increased regulatory compliance.

They say the proposed moves will mean better access to affordable financial advice for Australians, who have spurned professional guidance because of the prohibitive fees charged.

Assistant Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology Minister Jane Hume announced the changes last week, saying the measures will strengthen the financial advice sector and provide consumers with improved access to better quality and affordable guidance.

Ms Hume has in October told the industry the Government was aware of advisers’ concerns over the cost impact of regulatory reforms and ways to ease the burden were under consideration.

Under the changes announced, the Government will proceed with the creation of a single, central disciplinary body for financial advisers as recommended by the Hayne royal commission.

The disciplinary body is to be set up by expanding the operation of the Financial Services and Credit Panel (FSCP) within the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). The FSCP currently supports ASIC in the exercise of its regulatory functions with respect to the making of banning orders against individuals for misconduct.

The standard-making functions of FASEA will be moved to Treasury and the remaining elements of FASEA’s role, including administering the adviser examination, will be incorporated into the FSCP’s expanded mandate.

“These reforms will further streamline the number of bodies involved in the oversight of financial advisers, resulting in FASEA being wound up,” a statement from the Treasurer’s office says. “Legislation implementing these reforms is intended to be introduced into Parliament in the first half of next year.

“The Morrison Government is committed to continuing to improve the regulatory framework applying to the financial advice sector and ensuring that Australians can get access to affordable advice to help them plan for their future.

FPA CEO Dante De Gori has described last week’s announcement as a “step in the right direction.”

“The FPA has been calling for a simplification of standards setting and the establishment of a single disciplinary body to reduce red tape and untangle an unreasonably complex regulatory framework that is stifling the financial planning profession and driving up the cost of advice,” Mr De Gori said.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to simplifying regulation and the first steps towards giving Australians a better chance to access and pay for financial advice they need, when they want it.”

AFA CEO Philip Kewin says the peak body supports moves that remove red tape for advisers and improve outcomes for consumers.

“Financial advisers and the advice industry as a whole have been hit with layers and layers of regulation that have increased the cost to provide advice without any clear consumer benefit,” Mr Kewin said.

“The AFA will continue to campaign for better outcomes for advisers and the clients they serve.”