The executive director of the Finance Brokers Association of Australia has welcomed the consultation on ASIC’s Financial Services Panel, but says that anyone chosen to sit on the panel must be impartial.
Speaking to The Adviser following the release of the consultation paper into whether a new Financial Services Panel (FSP) being set up by ASIC should be given the power to ban individuals from the financial services and credit industries for misconduct, the FBAA’s Peter White said that he thought it was a “great idea”.
He said: “It's a great idea. I've been very impressed with the way ASIC has been dealing with things the last couple of years; I think it just goes to show again that ASIC is very understanding and transparent in the marketplace.
“I just hope they get a well-structured committee together that knows what the issues are that they are dealing with. It's not insignificant — they're playing with people's lives and it's important it’s done right.”
Crucially, Mr White said that he thought a key requirement for any FSP member should be “independence of thought and influence”.
Mr White said: “I think its very important that this committee has people involved who are independent of any commercial influence. Given this is about assessing whether people should be banned from the industry, those decisions cannot be swayed by commercial influence or bias influence.”
While suggesting that it “would be good if there was potentially a broker or an AFS holder that sits on that committee”, he added: “A mixed composition on this committee is certainly the right thing, independence of thought and influence and independence of bias needs to be well considered as well."
He continued: “I think it has to be very carefully chosen and that decisions aren’t made for vested commercial interests or biased interests for any reason so that independence will be extremely important for the right outcome.”
Specifically, Mr White said he would have “concerns for the likes of consumer advocates being involved” because they tend to have “a very strong negative bias towards brokers”, which could lead to inappropriate outcomes.
However, he noted that it couldn’t be too far the other way either, “it can’t be ‘thou can do no harm’ either,” he said. “It has to be balanced and unbiased and impartial.”
Mr White concluded that this was about understanding the law and compliance, so someone with in-depth knowledge of the issues involved should be appointed.
“I think the composition of this committee must have experience, you can’t make these sort of decisions, which have impact on people's livelihoods, lightly. And they need to be informed and they need to be done with a strong level of knowledge in the industry and how businesses work.
“At the end of the day, what you are saying to somebody is 'you're out of a job'. You're putting someone out of work by banning them, so it’s a very serious matter to be dealing with and it needs to be dealt with very, very carefully and that's why there needs to be a very strong depth of experience and knowledge within the industry specific to the areas and there can’t be any bias or commercial influence.”
Generally, Mr White welcomed the concept of the FSP though, saying that he thought ASIC was undertaking a “very transparent and balanced thought process for this, which is why they are asking for feedback on various structures.”