The coronavirus pandemic is constantly changing around the country. Given how quickly governments are responding to outbreaks, it is important to ensure business continuity plans remain appropriate for your business and support you in helping your clients.
Regulatory relief for financial planners and licensees
The provision of financial advice is subject to the requirements set by multiple regulators. Each of these regulators have announced relevant relief measures to assist business to adapt to the current social distancing requirements while still providing vital services to clients, and to reduce the regulatory burden during the COVID-19 crisis.
The relief measures in ASIC Corporations (COVID-19 – Advice-related Relief) Instrument 2020/355 will end on 15 April 2021 (extended from 15 October 2020).
ASIC Corporations (COVID-19 – Advice-related Relief) Instrument 2020/355 provides temporary relief to:
- allow financial advisers not to give a Statement of Advice (SOA) to a client when providing advice about the early release scheme, subject to several conditions;
- permit registered tax agents to give advice about the early release of superannuation to their existing clients without needing to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) license, subject to several conditions;
- give advice providers up to 30 business days (instead of 5 business days) to give a SOA after time-critical advice is provided; and
- enable a Record of Advice (ROA) to be given instead of an SOA, in certain defined circumstances to existing clients of financial advisers.
Further details can be found on ASIC’s FAQ. This is 12 months after the temporary relief commenced.
The no action position for superannuation trustees expires on 31 December 2020 (extended from 24 September 2020), which is when applications for early release can no longer be made.
You can find information on other compassionate grounds to withdraw super on the ATO website.
The FPA encourages members to use FPA Community to keep in touch with the FPA and to provide feedback on how you are and any issues you are facing, particularly from a regulatory perspective that we may be able to help with.
With the constantly changing nature of the pandemic, it is important to have a business continuity plan in place, as well as an immediate response plan for your business and staff in the event of a rapid government response to any coronavirus outbreak or escalating circumstances.
Here are some tips for financial planning related businesses to prepare for the business implications of COVID-19:
- Accurate information is paramount. All governments have announced measures to support businesses and individuals through the pandemic. Access Federal, State and Territory government information and resources to support businesses here.
- Take immediate steps to reduce the risk of you, your staff and your clients being exposed to someone that may be infected, including being ultra-vigilant about personal hygiene and adhering to government health advice on social distancing and isolation as required. (See State and Territory information section for specific restrictions that may apply to your location.)
- Assess how your business may be impacted operationally and financially and develop some mitigation strategies
- Are you prepared to work from home and continue serving your clients if required?
- Will you be able to access necessary documents and files if you are required to work remotely?
- What arrangements are available to you if government restrictions prevent the collection of mail from office locations?
- Do you have a plan in place for all employees to work remotely and receive the support they need?
- Identify the communication mediums accessible to and preferred by your clients if face-to-face meetings are not permitted under government restrictions.
- Identify challenges to be addressed in your business continuity planning – revising budgets, business plans, IT infrastructure and travel plans may be necessary.
- Australia’s experience with natural disasters provides relevant lessons for business continuity planning which are available on the business.gov.au website here.
- Talk with all your clients, stakeholders and suppliers who are most likely wanting to collaborate and work together with you to get through these challenging times.
- Make the most of available government support programs and stimulus packages that will focus on keeping small businesses operating in this difficult time.
- Seek professional help where required, including from FPA Wellbeing.
State and Territory Government information
Refer to your local state government for the latest responses to the coronavirus pandemic. You can also check restrictions in all states and territories using the COVID-19 Restriction Checker.
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Northern Territory
- Australian Capital Territory
Supporting your health and wellbeing
Given the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, we understand many of you may be experiencing feelings of increased anxiety and distress. While it’s reasonable to be concerned, there are simple and effective steps you can take to help take care of yourself, and the people around you.
Through the FPA Wellbeing program, you can access free, confidential support and resources. We’ve partnered with Benestar to offer FPA members this program. Benestar has also developed resources to help you and your employees during this challenging time. Access the resources below.
- Steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19
- Understanding health anxiety
- Managing teams working remotely
- Preventing fatigue
- Building resilience
- Keeping fit whilst working from home
- Supporting children during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Supporting customers during the COVID-19 pandemic
For more information
Please access the latest information on COVID-19 from the Australian Government Department of Health.
Meeting your CPD requirements
Make use of FPA My CPD, your online education platform to plan, access and track your CPD requirements. FPA My CPD aggregates hundreds of hours of CPD from a wide range of partners allowing easy and convenient access to online CPD options including webinars, courses, articles and quizzes.
FASEA has announced that any financial planner with a CPD year which has been affected by COVID-19 will have an additional three months to meet their CPD requirements.
CFP® Certification Program and Webinars
The CFP® Certification Program and our webinar program will be running as normal.
If you are currently residing in a country severely affected by COVID-19 and have had difficulty accessing any FPA online content, please contact us directly and we will discuss alternatives to enable you to continue with the program or view a webinar at another time.