Morning Briefing: Regulator says banks must boost adviser oversight

ASIC says the big banks still need to improve oversight of their financial advisers... Franchise boss welcomes ASIC's broker commission report...

Morning Briefing: Regulator says banks must boost adviser oversight
ASIC says banks must boost adviser oversight
(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s big banks still need to improve oversight of their financial advisers, the nation’s security regulator said Friday, in a blow to the industry’s attempts to move on from a series of scandals that has cost the lenders millions of dollars.

An Australian Securities & Investments Commission report into how large financial firms have dealt with poor advisers concludes that while they have improved their practices, a number of problems remain. The review highlights repeated failures to notify the regulator about breaches of conduct, “significant delays’’ in reporting problems and inadequate background checking and information sharing within the industry.

The review covers the conduct of the financial-advice arms of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp., National Australia Bank Ltd. and AMP Ltd. The industry has collectively paid out A$30 million to customers who suffered losses from poor advice between 2009 and 2015, ASIC said.

Public disquiet over the scandals in banks’ insurance and wealth divisions was one of the main drivers behind a series of parliamentary hearings with the heads of the four biggest banks. At the most recent set of hearings, the bank chiefs sought to stress the work they have done to improve both systems and culture.

“There is a lot of room for improvement and a long way to go,’’ ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said on a media call. The report should serve as a “wake-up call,” he said, promising “more action” if banks didn’t shape up.

Franchise boss welcomes ASIC's broker commission report 
Mortgage Choice chief executive John Flavell has welcomed the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) review into mortgage broker remuneration.

The regulator made it clear in its Review of Mortgage Broker Remuneration report that brokers play an integral role in the home loan market, said Flavell.

“We have had a look at ASIC’s report and it is obvious that the regulator believes mortgage brokers provide a tremendous amount of value to consumers. 

“In addition, they believe the logic behind the current commission model, which involves an upfront and trailing commission payment, is sound, but believe there is the potential to make some subtle changes around the fringes of the current remuneration structure.

“We have supported ASIC’s Review of Mortgage Broker Remuneration investigation from the beginning, and have worked closely with the regulator throughout the process."

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