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Should brokers join the fight against CSLR?

by Annie Kane12 minute read

OPINION With the financial advice industry recoiling at the growing costs of the new Compensation Scheme of Last Resort levies, should brokers be looking to join the fight, too?

It may only have come into operation less than two months ago, but the Compensation Scheme of Last Resort (CSLR) is already drawing ire from the financial services industry.

The CSLR aims to offer recompense to consumers who have received a favourable determination from the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) but haven’t been paid by the financial firm in question because it has gone insolvent.

The scheme enables compensation payments of up to $150,000 if a consumer is found to have suffered financial loss relating to:

  • Personal financial advice (for example, a financial planner giving “inappropriate advice” causing financial loss).
  • Dealing in securities for retail clients (for example, a stockbroker buying shares for a client resulting in financial loss).
  • Providing credit (for example, a credit provider giving a borrower regulated credit they can’t afford).
  • Arranging credit (for example, a mortgage broker “inappropriately” arranging funds for a borrower).

But, while the first levy period has been funded by the Australian government (and will meet eligible compensation claims and costs from the CSLR’s commencement on 2 April 2024 to 30 June 2024), the second levy period – expected to meet eligible compensation claims and costs from 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2025 – will be covered by the sub-sectors of the financial services industry that are covered by the CSLR, including credit intermediation.

The estimate for each sub-sector is:

  • Financial advice, $18.5 million.
  • Credit provision, $1.5 million.
  • Credit intermediation, $1.8 million.
  • Securities dealing, $2.3 million.

It is estimated that the 4,214 credit intermediaries will have to pay a minimum levy of $100 plus $33.85 per credit representative for the Compensation Scheme of Last Resort, on top of other levies already placed on the industry (such as the ASIC levy and AFCA costs).

But is it fair for an industry to wear the cost of another company’s misdemeanours?

The financial services industry certainly doesn’t think so. As reported on our sister brand ifa, financial advisers are collectively writing to politicians and regulators outlining their frustration that they are having to pay high penalties for something they have not done.

The anger largely stems from the fact that the financial advice industry will have to pay $5,709 per adviser to bear the financial burden for the transgressions of a major, defunct entity, such as Dixon Advisory.

Added to the gripes is the fact that the parent company of Dixon Advisory, Evans and Partners, earned over $174 million in revenue last financial year, yet advisers are being asked to foot the bill for its subsidiary’s failures. Plus, according to ifa, E&P’s licensee, Evans and Partners (where many of the Dixon clients and advisers migrated), continues to operate the US Masters Residential Property Fund (URF) — the very product that played a huge role in this scandal.

According to the deputy chair of the financial services regulator ASIC, Sarah Court, part of the issue lies in the fact that "the way that our laws work is that [ASIC has] to deal with the company or entity that is actually engaged in the conduct. And there was no evidence that [ASIC] could ascertain that Evans and Partners was involved in the conduct that was done by Dixon and its advisers.”

In the letter circulating to MPs by members of the financial planning industry, wealth advisers said: “Most financial advisers like myself, are small-business owners who prioritise their clients’ interests. Holding them accountable for the failures of large corporations like Dixon Advisory is unjust and unsustainable.”

Coupled with the ASIC levy (of $2,818), this imposes a total cost of over $8,500 on each financial adviser.

According to financial advisers, the added costs mounted on the industry make it hard for planners to maintain “affordable access to financial advice”.

As such, the Financial Advice Association Australia (FAAA) will soon mount a campaign regarding the unjust CSLR cost being imposed on advisers.

Given that brokers may soon have to one day wear the costs of an insolvent company’s failure to pay compensation, it may not be long before this industry joins the fight.

What do you think about the CSLR levy? Would you join a campaign fighting against it? Let us know in the comments below.

[Related: MFAA calls for a review of the CSLR within 3 years]

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