ASIC, Financial Planning

Early access advice simplified

ASIC financial advice COVID-19

ASIC has announced relief measures to assist the financial advice sector during the COVID-19 pandemic and relaxed rules around the provision of advice.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced financial advisers will not be required to provide a statement of advice (SOA) when providing financial advice on early access to superannuation as part of relief measures to assist the financial advice industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and lock-down.

Additionally, the corporate regulator will also permit registered tax agents to give advice to existing clients about early access to superannuation without needing to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence, and has issued a temporary no-action position for super trustees to expand the scope of personal advice that may be provided by, or on behalf of, the superannuation trustee as ‘intra-fund advice’.

ASIC said the relief measures, and its no-action position, would be temporary to assist the financial advice industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and were subject to a number of conditions.

These conditions include an advice client being provided with a record of advice (ROA), any advice fees being capped at $300 and the client must have approached the advice provider for the advice.

ASIC also addressed the recent increase in the demand for time-critical financial advice by temporarily extending the time frame for providing time-critical SOAs.

“To assist financial advisers meet the demand for time-critical advice during this difficult time, ASIC has provided temporary relief to give advice providers up to 30 business days (instead of five business days) to give an SOA after time-critical advice is provided,” it said.

In addition, it stated it would provide further temporary relief during the pandemic by allowing the provision of an ROA to existing clients, even if the clients’ personal circumstances had changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the client had seen an adviser from the same AFS licensee or practice, and not their original adviser.

“ASIC will conduct surveillance activities to monitor the advice provided under this relief to ensure that advisers, registered tax agents and superannuation trustees are acting in the interests of their clients and members,” it added.

“ASIC will consider market developments and consult with key stakeholders before revoking the instrument of relief and provide 30 days’ notice to the industry.”

The moves by ASIC have received support from a number of financial advice representative bodies which were involved in their development with the regulator.

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