media release (18-292MR)

All managed discretionary account providers now required to be licensed


All managed discretionary account (MDA) providers must now have an Australian financial services (AFS) licence, with an MDA-specific ‘dealing by issue’ licence authorisation.

From today, MDA providers who do not have the required AFS licence authorisations must cease providing MDAs until they have obtained those authorisations.

An MDA is a facility where client portfolio assets are managed on an individual basis by an MDA provider at the MDA provider's discretion (subject to any limitation agreed with the client). MDAs are often used by financial advisers and varying terminology is used to refer to these products, such as separately managed accounts, individually managed accounts, investment advisory programs or managed discretionary portfolio services.

ASIC gave notice of the revised AFS licence requirements in September 2016 (refer: 16-333MR). Since then, 59 AFS licensees have applied for authorisation to operate as an MDA provider to transition and there are 244 licensees who have an MDA specific ‘dealing by issue’ authorisation.

ASIC will undertake reviews to check that MDA providers hold the relevant AFS licence authorisations and will take action if unlicensed activity is identified.


On 29 September 2016, ASIC updated its regulatory guidance on its relief for MDAs with the publication of revised Regulatory Guide 179 Managed discretionary accounts (RG 179) in 2016 (refer: 16-333MR). 

MDA providers that relied on ASIC’s no action position for MDAs operated on a regulated platform have had two years (until 1 October 2018) to transition to the revised requirements and either obtain the necessary AFS licence authorisation or cease their MDA activities.

The removal of the no-action position was consulted on in 2013 and confirmed with the publication of revised RG 179 in 2016.

Media enquiries: Contact ASIC Media Unit