The Financial Planning Association of Australia The Financial Planning Association of Australia

FPA welcomes AFCA approach to adviser conduct obligations

The Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) welcomes today’s statement from the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) that outlines its approach to assessing adviser conduct obligations under the new Financial Adviser Code of Ethics.

The new code, which comes into effect from 1 January 2020, will be overseen by a single disciplinary body which is yet to be announced by the Government.

Speaking at the FPA 2019 Professional Congress today, AFCA Deputy Chief Ombudsman, Dr June Smith announced the approach that the ombudsman scheme will adopt.

Dante De Gori CFP® CEO of the FPA, said: “Dr Smith has made it clear that AFCA will take a measured and considered approach to interpreting the Code of Ethics’ provisions until the establishment of the single disciplinary body to monitor and enforce the Code.

“The FPA fully supports the aim of the Code which will be to improve conduct and ensure all financial planners place their clients’ interests first, and that they act in a way that is consistent with the values and standards expected of our profession.”

AFCA will assess adviser conduct by giving the Code its practical meaning, taking into account:

  • The intention and objectives of the Code as a whole and the professional standards framework from which it is derived;
  • The current legislative, regulatory and professional environment within which the Code operates;
  • The Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority’s (FASEA) guidance on the operation of the Code’s values and standards; and
  • The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s expectations about steps Australian financial services licensees should take to ensure their advisers comply with the Code and specifically the guidance that they will take a facilitated compliance approach with respect to Standards 3 and 7 while FASEA continues to refine its guidance over the period up to the establishment of the single disciplinary body.

“Today’s announcement, along with ASIC’s confirmation earlier in the week on their facilitated compliance approach to standard 3 and 7, provides the much needed breathing space for us to calmly work through the remaining areas of uncertainty with FASEA over 2020,” said Mr De Gori.”

The FPA will continue to work with AFCA on the FASEA Code of Ethics and will shortly develop further tools and resources to assist members in understanding and building compliance with the Code.

AFCA started operating on 1 November 2018. The new body has taken over from the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.