So why did you join the FSC? Most firms do so for our expertise in policy development and advocacy.
Others value collaboration, of being a part of working groups, solving technical problems with industry peers; some for our deep engagement with policymakers - Treasury and regulators - and navigating the black box (for most) of Canberra. Others highly rate our mandated Standards and Codes.
There is another important reason – corporate responsibility. For many US based firms, this is business hygiene, the right thing to do when you hang up your shingle. Being a member of a respected industry association gives firms standing and clout. Many voices are stronger together on Capitol Hill, as they are in Canberra.
The value of a diverse, deep and broad industry association like the FSC is perhaps best illustrated by intense work over the past two years on three separate, major projects – a total overhaul of financial advice; designing a critical technical element of the mandated Design and Distribution Obligations (DDO) regime; and the development of the Life Insurance Code of Practice. All have far-reaching consequences for financial services, they will benefit consumers, and in my view, they had to be taken on, and delivered.
Firstly, recognising that the financial advice sector was buckling under some serious challenges, with advisers leaving in droves and advice becoming unaffordable as compliance costs grew exponentially, we undertook a comprehensive project on the future of advice. Today, we are only months away from completing a proposal for a radical restructure of the system, which we believe will deliver more affordable and accessible advice to Australian consumers.
Secondly, we took on an even more time-critical piece of work, designing target market determination templates and data standards for super funds, platforms and wraps, life insurers and fund managers, a critical part of the DDO regime which will be mandatory on October 5. These templates and standards should make life much easier for product issuers, platforms and financial advisers who would otherwise face confusing and inconsistent compliance requirements.
Thirdly, after developing the first Life Code in 2017, we are about to deliver the second iteration of Code, ready for ASIC approval.
I am proud that the FSC took these projects on, and that our members supported us. My staff, and yours devoted tens of thousands of person-hours – most on Zoom – designing sound, solid solutions and outcomes.
This is corporate social responsibility writ large, and in tangible form. There are many financial services firms, not FSC members, which will benefit enormously, both directly and indirectly, because a core set of companies, their peers, have joined us, paid fees and put their teams forward to work for the good of the whole sector.
If you’re a member reading this, you should feel proud because your work, with us, is delivering lasting benefits for Australians. If you’re not, you should join the FSC.
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