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21 Jan 2021 ASIC Updates

RG 246 Conflicted and other banned remuneration

ASIC has released technical updates to Regulatory Guide 246 Conflicted and other banned remuneration (RG 246) to reflect recent changes to the law.

The updates to RG 246 reflect the end of the grandfathering of conflicted remuneration for financial product advice from 1 January 2021. It also reflects the extension of the ban on conflicted remuneration to stamping fees paid in relation to listed investment companies and listed investment trusts (excluding real estate investment trusts) that took effect on 1 July 2020.

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ASIC bans former Sydney adviser for three years

ASIC has banned Sydney-based financial adviser Jim Pavlidis from providing financial services for three years.

A review of Mr Pavlidis’ advice between 2004 and 2018 found that he failed to provide financial advice that was in the best interests of his clients and to keep proper records. Mr Pavlidis failed to consider the relevant circumstances of each client and left client objectives unaddressed. 

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ASIC approves variations to the Banking Code

ASIC has approved variations to the Banking Code of Practice (Code). The variations, as proposed by the Australian Banking Association (ABA), do the following:

  • Amend the Code’s definition of ‘banking services’ to address an anomaly in the Code’s previous wording that had the unintended result of excluding certain types of small business banking customers who would otherwise meet the Code’s definition of ‘small business’.
  • Make some minor amendments to the Code’s definition of ‘small business’.
  • Extend the application of the Code’s COVID-19 Special Note, which allows for special application of specified Code provisions in light of the extraordinary external environment caused by COVID-19, for a further six months until 1 September 2021.
  • Specify situations in which banks may decline to continue dealing with a representative that a customer in financial difficulty has appointed, if the bank reasonably considers that representative is no longer able to act in the customer’s best interests.
  • Align the Code’s timeframes for responding to complaints with the updated timeframes in ASIC’s Regulatory Guide 271 Internal dispute resolution, which is due to commence on 5 October 2021.

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ASIC commences civil penalty proceedings against Squirrel Superannuation Services

On 23 December 2020, ASIC commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against Squirrel Superannuation Services Pty Ltd (Squirrel) for false or misleading representations.

Squirrel is a financial technology company that holds an Australian financial services licence (AFSL). ASIC alleges that from around January 2015, Squirrel marketed and sold services helping customers establish and operate self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF) to purchase established residential property.

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Former Sydney financial adviser pleads guilty to theft and director duties offences

Keith James Flowers, formerly known as Nigel Flowers, of Bathurst, New South Wales, has appeared before Downing Street District Court Sydney and pleaded guilty to one charge of acting dishonestly as a company director and one charge of theft.

Mr Flowers was the director of Flowers Financial Group Pty Ltd (in liquidation) and Flowers Financial Management Pty Ltd (in liquidation), which specialised in providing financial advice to the medical profession.

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