Compliance, Regulation

Cautious approach needed for new regulatory body

An accounting body has, in principle, welcomed the banking royal commission’s recommendation to establish a new independent regulatory body to improve the accountability of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), warning the implementation needs to be carried out with certain elements in place.

According to Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) chief executive Andrew Conway, proper funding and resourcing for the new body needs to be secured from the outset.

“While on face value having a regulatory body regulating the regulators may appear a regulatory overkill, if it achieves the desired accountability outcomes, it may have merit,” Conway said.

To that end, he declared he did not want the establishment of this regulatory body to place more pressure on ASIC and APRA to produce more unconsidered compliance results as this would potentially cause harm.

“What we do not want to see is further regulatory burden being filtered down on the shoulders of small business operators,” he said.

“Our ‘Small Business White Paper’ points to the need to look at regulator culture and adjust behaviours that do not inflict unnecessary burden on SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).

“We also do not want to see the targeting of small targets due to additional pressure placed on ASIC to enforce, while there are more complex and yet bigger fish to fry.”

He said everything must be done to ensure support for victims of unscrupulous financial services behaviour is provided and the individuals responsible for investor losses are prosecuted.

“Up until recent times, ASIC have had the regulatory teeth on paper but not the resources and funding to actually bite, so they should be given the good grace to prove themselves,” he added.

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