Minter Ellison’s Batten says licensees are reluctant to apply for relief from ASIC

Speaking to InvestorDaily, Minter Ellison specialist financial services partner Richard Batten has said there is a reluctance among licensees to apply for relief from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in case it results in increased scrutiny from ASIC.

According to ASIC, the corporate regulator denied a number of requests for ‘no action’ letters in relation to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) regime between June and September 2013. It denied requests for relief around the grandfathering of conflicted remuneration payments, in relation to the bans on conflicted remuneration and volume-based shelf-space fees, and to a firm concerned it would not be able to demonstrate compliance with the modified version of the best interests duty.

However, it did grant ‘no action’ letters related to the production of a fee disclosure statement (FDS).

Batten said: ‘There may be a reluctance to seek confirmation from ASIC unless you’re pointing to very specific anomalies that you don’t feel raise significant policy issues.’

He added that even if a licensee receives legal advice that some amount of regulatory relief might be in justified, it is never ‘set in stone’.

‘There may be a reason to seek no action from ASIC, but it may affect your ability to rely on [your own legal advice] once ASIC has said they disagree,’ he said.