COVID-19 regulatory information
In August 2021, ASIC published its Corporate Plan 2021-25 (Focus 2021-22), which sets out four priorities to tackle the challenges presented by COVID-19:
- Promoting economic recovery – including through better and more efficient regulation, facilitating innovation, and targeting regulatory and enforcement action to areas of greatest harm.
- Reducing risk of harm to consumers exposed to poor product governance and design, and increased investment scam activity in a low-yield environment.
- Supporting enhanced cyber resilience and cyber security among ASIC’s regulated population, in line with the whole-of-government commitment to mitigating cyber security risks.
- Driving industry readiness and compliance with standards set by law reform initiatives (including the Financial Accountability Regime, reforms in superannuation and insurance, breach reporting, and the design and distribution obligations).
Information for small business
ASIC has information to help small business operators, including how to protect your small business. It is important to think through financial decisions and seek business advice from a trusted professional adviser.
ASIC also has resources for small business operators when companies are experiencing financial distress or trading while insolvent. There are also resources to help companies dealing with financial distress from the Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association (ARITA), Chartered Accountants ANZ (CA ANZ) and CPA Australia.
The Australian Government introduced further insolvency reforms to help small businesses, which came into effect on 1 January 2021.
Banks are offering relief for small businesses affected by COVID-19.
When making decisions about your superannuation and other investments, consider your long-term plan, take your time and seek advice to make an informed decision. Moneysmart has more information about super investment options and accessing your super early.
If you are aware of any scams or bad behaviour, you can submit tip-offs, information of concern, and reports of misconduct via ASIC’s how to complain page.
Stay up-to-date on the latest small business information from:
- Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
- Australian Taxation Office: JobKeeper and small business news
- Indigenous Business Australia
- state-based small business commissioners: Victoria, NSW, SA and WA
- industry associations: ARITA, CA ANZ, CPA Australia and Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
- scams: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission common scams targeting small businesses guide and business.gov.au Be COVID Fraud Aware guide.
For mental health support and resources, visit:
- Beyond Blue’s Headsup program
- Small Business Financial Counselling Support Line website or phone 1800 413 828
- Business.gov.au: Mental health and wellbeing support for business
Information for directors
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government introduced temporary changes to insolvency laws effective for six months from 25 March 2020. This includes temporary relief for directors from personal liability for trading while insolvent.
The Australian Government has introduced further insolvency reforms for small businesses, which came into effect on 1 January 2021.
We encourage directors to seek independent advice from qualified advisers.
Information for market participants
ASIC is working closely with exchanges and market participants to make sure the financial system is able to operate effectively and markets remain open.
We will continue to actively monitor market developments domestically and overseas and take action as appropriate.
On 7 May 2020, ASIC released new guidance for directors and other company insiders on share trading.
For all market-related COVID-19 updates from ASIC:
Information for public companies
ASIC also provided temporary relief to listed companies to help them raise capital quickly by enabling certain ‘low doc’ offers to be made to investors.
Information for insurers
ASIC encourages fair and efficient insurance claims handling. ASIC expects firms involved in handling insurance claims to act with the utmost good faith. ASIC expects industry to communicate clearly and accurately to customers about their cover recognising the changing situation they may be facing.
ASIC has written to insurers to set out expectations in relation to claims handling, communication and flexibility to assist consumers at this time.
ASIC has written to insurers, Lloyd’s coverholders and brokers about handling business interruption insurance claims arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of regulatory relief given to Australia Post by the Government, ASIC has issued a no-action position in relation to certain breaches of the Corporations Act and Corporations Regulations.
ASIC sets expectations of life and general insurers following a review of insurers’ responses to consumers experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Information for superannuation trustees
ASIC is working with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to provide superannuation trustees with the latest information on regulatory issues that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.
ASIC has issued a temporary no-action position for superannuation trustees to expand the scope of personal advice that may be provided by, or on behalf of, the superannuation trustee as ‘intra-fund advice’.
Information for financial advisers and advice licensees
ASIC is closely monitoring how market conditions are affecting the financial advice industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have outlined the steps we will take to reduce regulatory burden for the industry, and will provide updated information regularly.
Information for lenders
On 27 August 2020, ASIC published information for lenders about dealing with debt management firms.
APRA announced an extension of its temporary capital treatment for bank loans on 8 July 2020. This means that lenders have the option of extending repayment deferrals for an additional four months for borrowers that require further assistance. An extension to a repayment deferral will not be automatic and lenders will be contacting borrowers to determine what are the best options for them given their circumstances.
ASIC is closely monitoring how lenders are assisting consumers who are experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19.
Lenders must also do all things necessary to ensure that the credit activities authorised by their licence are engaged in efficiently, honestly and fairly.
In April 2020, ASIC wrote to lenders about responsible lending, hardship and other matters.
In August 2020, ASIC issued its expectations of retail lenders when loan repayment deferrals end.
Note: On 25 September 2020, the Government announced proposed reforms to the responsible lending obligations contained in Chapter 3 of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009. The proposed reforms will amend the obligations that apply before entry into a credit product or the provision of credit assistance. ASIC’s guidance relating to the current responsible lending obligations will be reviewed and updated when the proposed reforms are finalised.
Information for responsible entities
ASIC reminds responsible entities of registered managed investment schemes about their legal obligations and duties to members, and that valuations of managed fund assets should be regular, robust and reasonable. More information is available at:
- ASIC letter to responsible entities of registered schemes
- Managed fund asset valuations must be reliable during COVID-19
- Fund operators
We encourage responsible entities to engage with ASIC on liquidity issues and to notify ASIC as soon as practicable if a scheme they operate becomes frozen. You can contact ASIC by sending an email to email@example.com.
We have provided hardship relief so that responsible entities can allow members suffering hardship to withdraw from a ‘frozen fund’: see Frozen funds – Information for responsible entities.
Payments, invoices and fee relief
- Industry Funding: If you are experiencing difficulties meeting your Industry Funding obligations due to COVID-19, please contact us on (03) 5177 5252 to discuss your payment options or refer to our Industry funding payment plans information.
- Fee relief: If you are experiencing difficulties meeting your obligations due to COVID-19 and need support, visit ASIC’s COVID-19 relief page.