Following an industry inquest that uncovered a variety of dubious sales practices, Australian regulators are stepping up their fight against cold calling and other unsolicited sales pitches.
The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has published proposed regulatory guidance that prohibits “hawking” financial products. The proposal comes ahead of financial sector reforms that are due to take effect in October to address recommendations from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
The Royal Commission’s final report called for anti-hawking reforms to protect consumers from being sold financial products they don’t need or want. In response, new reforms taking effect on Oct. 5 will prohibit unsolicited sales pitches and not allow products to be sold without a consumer’s consent. The reforms also stipulate that a consumer’s explicit consent expires after six weeks.
“These reforms will give consumers greater control over the circumstances in which they are offered products, and prevent consumers being approached with unwanted products on cold-calls or through other unsolicited contacts. They will also prevent businesses relying indefinitely on consents from consumers,” said ASIC commissioner Danielle Press in a release.
“The reforms take a technology neutral approach, meaning the ban applies to all forms of real-time communication,” Press added. The reforms also require “positive, voluntary and clear” consent from consumers before they are pitched on financial products, she said.
The proposed new guidance is out for comment until Aug. 17. ASIC said it will publish its final guidance in September.