The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on Thursday published new guidance for retail advice firms that sets out when and how firms should provide remediation to clients as a result of widespread advisor misconduct.
The guidance reflects work that ASIC has done with industry over the past several years on large remediation programs stemming from systemic advice issues. In its 2015-2016 financial year, the regulator secured over A$200 million in compensation and remediation for financial consumers and investors.
“ASIC wants to ensure that advice licensees proactively address any systemic problems caused by their conduct and, where necessary, put processes in place to remediate their clients for loss suffered in a way that is timely, fair and transparent,” said Peter Kell, ASIC deputy chairman, in a news release.
Among other things, “remediation is likely to be appropriate where a systemic issue has occurred that may have caused loss or detriment to clients,” the guidance stresses.
The process must be comprehensive, timely, fair, and transparent, under an appropriate governance structure, it adds.
Communication is key to ensuring that clients understand the remediation process and how it may affect them, the guidance says, and clients should have access to independent dispute resolution if they are not satisfied with the remediation decision.
“Advice firms that take effective and timely steps to fix problems if something goes wrong will be much better placed to retain the trust and confidence of their clients,” Kell added.