Future thinking should be shared. With that in mind our team publishes insights weekly to help keep you in the (k)now.


Hewison Private Wealth - Insights
Hewison Insights
banking royal commission
financial advice sector
financial adviser ethics

Banking Royal Commission Shame

John Hewison
Founder and Director
24 Apr 2018

I’m reading the reports coming out of the banking and financial services Hayne Royal Commission and frankly, my blood is beyond boiling.

We’ve been shouting from the rooftops about this corporate rorting of clients’ funds for years and no one takes any notice.

Why should this come as any surprise to the regulators and the politicians? I have had personal discussions with both on multiple occasions but they are in denial. Why? Perhaps it’s because of the lobbying power of the big end of town and their financial clout.

I had a dinner with some likeminded colleagues and a Federal Minister just prior to the last federal election. The purpose of that dinner was to enlighten the Minister with issues such as lifting the minimum education standards, code of Ethics and universal professional practicing standards for financial planners.  Almost inexplicably, the Minister sought to defend the banks as being dedicated to the wellbeing of the community and enforcement of standards, that he didn’t see the need for enforcement of a dramatic change to standards. He suggested that some of the sanctions we suggested would be “politically unacceptable by many of his colleagues”. I wonder how that Minster is feeling right now?

I also had a meeting with a very senior person at ASIC in the wake of some scathing comments made by ASIC’s former head Greg Medcraft. I explained how we operated and what we considered to be the appropriate standard for the profession. He was surprised at the standards we required in our business and agreed in principle with the points I made but he stated that it was a matter for the politicians to dictate the standards and for ASIC to enforce them.

For Pete’s sake where does the buck stop? Who is willing to make the hard decisions?

The fact is that if a financial services licensee like us perpetrated the wrongdoings of some major financial institutions we would lose our AFS license. Why don’t the same rules apply to major corporate AFSL holders in these circumstances?

We have campaigned for years about the inappropriateness of the institutionalisation of financial advice. How much more evidence do the gate keepers need?

The fact is we have an excellent regulatory regime in this country that is universally recognised as world’s best practice. The only problem is that many corporations don’t give a toss about their compliance responsibilities and focus on bottom line profit.

Clearly ASIC has been exposed of failing to regulate compliance of AFS licensees. I have long argued for compulsory audit of AFS licensees on a user pays basis rather than some prorata levy to give ASIC more money to squander on more ineffective reactive regulation that has continually failed in the past.

In my opinion every AFS Licensee should be subject to a thorough biennial audit of its compliance regime, its practicing standards, its supervisory process and file review, for which it will be charged an appropriate fee.

It is time to get serious about meeting the issues head on and having the courage to punish the perpetrators of non-compliance and hurting innocent people. It is time to put a robust failsafe regime in place that will ensure compliance with what is an excellent regulatory framework.

There are many outstanding professionals practicing financial planning in this country and we have the world champion professional association in the Financial Planning Association(FPA) of Australia. It’s time for the politicians and regulators to bypass the political lobbying and start listening to the true champions of the cause of protecting public wellbeing.

Hewison Private Wealth is a Melbourne based independent financial planning firm. Our financial advisers are highly qualified wealth managers and specialise in self managed super funds (SMSF), financial planning, retirement planning advice and investment portfolio management. If you would like to speak to a financial adviser on how you can secure your financial future please contact us 03 8548 4800, email info@hewison.com.au or visit www.hewison.com.auPlease note: The advice provided above is general information only and individuals should seek specialised advice from a qualified financial advisor. The views in this blog are those of the individual and may not represent the general opinion of the firm. Please contact Hewison Private Wealth for more information.