Statements of expectations and intent
The Government released its Statement of Expectations for ASIC in August 2021. It outlines the Government’s expectations of how ASIC will achieve our objectives, carry out our functions and exercise our powers.
In August 2021, ASIC responded to the Government’s Statement of Expectations with a Statement of Intent. ASIC also released its Corporate Plan 2021-25 which highlights the work we are doing over the next four years, both externally and internally, in line with our Statement of Intent.
- This Statement of Expectations outlines the Australian Government's expectations of how the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) will achieve its objectives, carry out its functions and exercise its powers. It is to be read alongside the laws that apply to ASIC and the laws that ASIC administers.
- The Government expects ASIC to identify and pursue opportunities to contribute to the Government's economic goals, including supporting Australia's economic recovery from the COVID pandemic. In doing this, the Government expects ASIC to:
- promote the sound functioning of capital markets and the corporate sector for the benefit of businesses and households;
- minimise the costs and burdens of regulatory requirements for regulated entities and consumers; and
- administer the law in a way that promotes competition and innovation in the interests of all consumers, including through promoting a digital economy.
- In achieving its objectives, carrying out its functions, and exercising its powers, the Government also expects ASIC to:
- ensure that its actions are not inconsistent with the policies of the Government, in accordance with section 21 of the Public Governance, Performance, and Accountability Act 2013;
- work closely with the Government and Treasury, including through the provision of information to Ministers in accordance with section 11(3) of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission Act 2001;
- consult with the Government and Treasury in exercising its policy-related functions, such as the use of its exemption and modification powers, other rule-making powers, and guidance;
- provide appropriate guidance when needed so that regulated entities have clarity and certainty about how ASIC will exercise its powers;
- ensure that guidance is not unduly prescriptive, and does not limit businesses' discretion and flexibility to operate in the manner they see fit while still complying with the law;
- ensure that guidance or other communications do not have the effect of setting standards beyond what the law requires;
- make decisions informed by open and transparent engagement with regulated entities, consumers, and investors, as well as data;
- identify and reduce misconduct risk through well-targeted and proportionate supervision, surveillance and enforcement activities; and
- coordinate regulatory activities with other regulatory agencies to avoid duplication, including through sharing information where possible.
- The Government also expects ASIC to act independently in its regulatory functions, including enforcement actions, supervisory activities and licensing decisions.
- With regard to organisational matters, the Government expects:
- the Chair to have sole responsibility for the executive management of ASIC, consistent with their role as Accountable Authority for ASIC;
- the Chair to delegate executive management functions to ASIC staff wherever the Chair considers that this would benefit the executive management of ASIC;
- the Commission of ASIC to act as a non-executive body under the leadership of the Chair; and
- ASIC to clearly articulate their Statement of Intent within their Corporate Plan including how it will strive to adopt the principles of best practice for Commonwealth regulators, demonstrating delivery against this intent and performance expectations in its Annual Report.
- This Statement of Intent outlines how ASIC will achieve our objectives, carry out our functions and exercise our powers in discharging our responsibilities. This Statement responds to the Government’s Statement of Expectations for ASIC, and should be read alongside that document, as well as the laws that apply to us and those which we administer.
Support for economic goals and COVID pandemic recovery
- We intend to contribute to the Government’s economic goals and COVID pandemic recovery by identifying and pursuing:
- ways to maintain and improve the fair and efficient operation of capital markets and the corporate sector, to facilitate business investment and confident participation by investors in the financial system;
- opportunities to continuously improve our performance, including, through the work of a purpose-specific unit, to change the way we administer the law to minimise the costs and burdens of regulatory requirements for our regulated population and consumers;
- additional ways to promote innovation, competition and a digital economy, including through our Innovation Hub and the Regulatory Sandbox, considering competition in our regulatory work, and working with industry and other regulators to enhance cyber-resilience;
- further opportunities to expand our use of data and digital technology to inform markets and consumers, and support faster and better regulatory outcomes; and
- continued ways to facilitate novel business models and transactions, including through the exercise of our regulatory relief powers as appropriate.
- In keeping with Section 21 of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013, the Chair as Accountable Authority will govern ASIC in a way that is not inconsistent with the policies of the Australian Government.
- While ASIC will act independently in carrying out our regulatory functions and making regulatory decisions, we remain committed to working with Government, Treasury and other regulators. We will consult with Government and Treasury on our policy-related functions.
- We will also continue to enhance our cooperation with other regulators, especially the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, to share information, avoid duplication and promote common approaches to regulation.
Stakeholder engagement and guidance
- Where guidance and other communication is needed to provide clarity on how we will exercise our powers, it will be clear, and will assist businesses to comply with the law flexibly with minimum compliance costs.
- Where we provide guidance to our regulated population about good practice, it will be clearly identified as such, rather than a legal requirement.
- We will actively and transparently engage with stakeholders and take their feedback into account when making regulatory decisions.
Use of regulatory tools
- We will use our full suite of regulatory tools in a targeted and proportionate way, to identify and reduce the risk of misconduct in the markets and sectors we regulate. We will focus our enforcement action on areas of greatest harm, and take an active and targeted approach to enforcement.
- On organisational matters, ASIC’s Chair will have sole executive management responsibility. As Accountable Authority the Chair will rely on and use ASIC’s key senior executives to carry out day to day management activities and deal with operational issues. The Chair will delegate functions where he considers this would benefit the executive management of ASIC.
- ASIC’s Commission will act as a strategic non-executive body focusing on high-level regulatory and statutory decision-making and stakeholder management, and continue to provide support to the Chair on organisational oversight.
- ASIC’s governance and accountability framework sets out the roles and responsibilities of the Chair and the Commission.
Corporate Plan and annual report
- We will include this Statement of Intent in our Corporate Plan and explain how our strategic priorities and work programs support it. We will explain how we will strive to adopt the principles in the Government’s Regulator Performance Guide and include reporting against these in our annual report.
Previous Statements of Expectations and Intent:
Australian Government’s Statement of Expectations (2018)
- This Statement sets out the Government’s expectations for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The Government expects ASIC to actively exercise its powers and functions to achieve its objectives, as set out in this Statement.
- More specifically, this Statement outlines the Government’s expectations for how ASIC fulfils its role, including how it balances its objectives and responds to changing circumstances. It also outlines expectations for how ASIC manages its relationships with the Government, other agencies, and regulators, and issues of transparency and accountability.
- The Government recognises and respects the independence of ASIC and its responsibility for market conduct regulation, as provided by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act). To maintain confidence in the regulatory framework, it is imperative that ASIC acts, and is perceived to act, independently in performing its functions and exercising its powers, as set out in statute.
- ASIC is established to administer the regulatory framework that governs corporations generally, and licensed financial firms and financial markets in particular, and the Government therefore expects that ASIC will take into account the Government’s policy priorities in performing its role and discharging its responsibilities.
- ASIC is expected to reply to this Statement with its own Statement of Intent.
- ASIC is responsible for facilitating and improving the performance of the financial system (including fair and efficient markets); promoting the confident and informed participation of investors and consumers; and conducting an efficient registry.
- A key role for ASIC is to reduce the likelihood that consumers will suffer losses as a result of misconduct by corporations and financial services licensees. This is done by ASIC enforcing and promoting expected standards of conduct using the range of regulatory tools at its disposal, including stakeholder engagement, surveillance, guidance, enforcement and policy advice.
- The Government expects ASIC to use its full regulatory toolkit and to direct a substantial proportion of its resources to surveillance and enforcement. Timely and effective enforcement strategies will deter misconduct and maintain confidence in the financial system. ASIC should clearly articulate, publicly, when it will, and will not, take certain enforcement action, so as to manage the public’s expectations and to promote confidence in ASIC.
- The Government also expects that ASIC will take a risk-based approach to identifying and addressing misconduct. As part of this, ASIC should have regard to the circumstances and extent of the risks involved in each matter and in relation to each industry participant to ensure that any action it takes is appropriately targeted and proportionate.
- ASIC also plays an important role in advancing financial literacy in the community. The Government considers that improved financial literacy will assist consumers to choose financial products and services that better meet their needs. The Government expects ASIC to continue its efforts towards, and its focus on, improving financial literacy.
- In performing its role, the Government expects ASIC to monitor the market proactively in order to identify and respond to misconduct efficiently. The identification and prioritisation of market risks should be informed by engagement with industry, as well as through data analytics. Consistent with the additional funding provided to ASIC in 2016 to enhance ASIC’s data analytics and data management systems, the Government expects ASIC to apply sophisticated analytical techniques to detect and respond to financial sector misconduct more effectively.
Balancing objectives for the financial system of the future
- The Government recognises that investor and consumer trust and confidence and fair and efficient markets are a pre-condition for markets to fund economic growth. As a market conduct regulator, ASIC is required to balance several objectives aimed at both facilitating markets and promoting trust and confidence in the financial system.
- The Government acknowledges that, in performing its role, ASIC is required to balance several objectives. At times, this may not be straightforward and the appropriate balance may require trade-offs.
- The Government has also committed to require ASIC explicitly to consider competition issues as part of its regulatory function. The Government now expects ASIC, in making its regulatory decisions, to have regard to competition issues to the full extent permitted by its enabling legislation.
- The Government also expects ASIC to publicly communicate how it has balanced its regulatory responsibilities, including competition aspects, in meeting its objectives. This is necessary to promote confidence in ASIC and to ensure the accountability of ASIC for such decisions.
- However, ASIC cannot be expected to, and nor should it seek to, eliminate all risk in the financial system. Our free market system, in allocating capital efficiently and funding economic growth, necessarily involves investors assuming some risk in order to make a return. The Government expects ASIC to clearly communicate publicly the parameters of its role and functions, so that the public is aware that ASIC cannot eliminate all risk of loss in the market.
Responding to changing circumstances
- In achieving its strategic priorities and legislative objectives, the Government recognises that ASIC’s priorities are subject to change over time as the regulatory needs of the Australian economy and markets change. The Government expects ASIC to conduct assessments of its operating environment regularly to inform its allocation of resources and to build its capability. In its annual Corporate Plan, ASIC should identify any relevant risks and opportunities that may affect its ability to achieve its mission and articulate clearly how its strategic priorities reflect these risks and opportunities.
- The Government has announced a number of measures to ensure that ASIC has the requisite skills and resources to carry out its role effectively in changing circumstances. The Government has announced that it will remove ASIC employees from the Public Service Act 1999 to assist with operational flexibility. ASIC will continue to be required to comply with the APS Workplace Bargaining Policy in relation to ASIC employees.
- The Government expects ASIC to continue examining its workforce and other capabilities having regard to the initiatives put in place as part of ASIC’s Response and Implementation Plan of the Capability Review recommendations (ASIC’s Implementation Plan). The Government expects ASIC to report annually on its consideration of capabilities and the actions it is taking to maintain and develop requisite capabilities.
- In 2017 the Government introduced an industry funding model for ASIC to support ASIC becoming a stronger regulator. Industry funding will provide ASIC with a richer dataset and require ASIC to explain, and engage on, its regulatory priorities and the allocation of resources to regulatory activities. The Government expects that ASIC will maintain a communications strategy that explains to industry and consumers its strategic priorities and choice of regulatory tools or pursuit of particular objectives in making regulatory decisions.
- The Government will continue to determine ASIC’s total budget funding. Consistent with the Australian Government Charging Framework, ASIC will undertake annual consultation on the cost recovery levies necessary to recover ASIC’s costs through a Cost Recovery Implementation Statement (CRIS). The CRIS will outline ASIC’s forecast regulatory costs and activities for each financial year. The Government expects that the CRIS will increase the transparency of ASIC's costs, and strengthen its accountability to stakeholders by enabling them to assess whether resources have been allocated appropriately and efficiently.
The Government's policy priorities for the financial system
- The Government is committed to increasing consumer trust and confidence and combatting misconduct in the financial services industry. The Government has announced that it will provide ASIC with a range of new powers to strengthen its ability to prevent consumer detriment. This includes a product intervention power, augmented by new design and distribution obligations for issuers and distributors of financial products. The Government will establish a new one-stop shop, external dispute resolution scheme, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, and will empower ASIC to monitor and improve both internal and external dispute resolution services
- The Government is also committed to improving protections for whistleblowers, including permitting a wider range of disclosures to be made to ASIC, which will cover whistleblower reports across almost all the private sector. This will provide whistleblowers with the confidence to come forward, knowing they will be protected, which in turn will assist with the deterrence, detection and prosecution of misconduct.
- The Government’s financial system agenda will also position Australia’s financial system to best respond to the challenges and opportunities of the future. The Government expects ASIC to actively support innovation in the financial system. The Government expects ASIC to continue to develop strategies that address the need for a more innovative approach to regulation in an environment of digital disruption and financial disintermediation.
- The Government is committed to ensuring that Australia is positioned to benefit from the greater use of data. Increased data has the potential to boost innovation, to help Australia to remain globally competitive. The Government expects ASIC, together with other relevant regulators, to facilitate the greater sharing of Government data, taking into account privacy concerns and other legislative responsibilities. Over time, ASIC is expected to maintain a data policy that is consistent with the Government’s commitment to facilitate more effective use of data in the financial services sector, to better serve consumers’ needs.
The Government's regulatory reform program
- The Government is committed to reducing red tape and compliance costs for business and the community as part of broader regulatory reforms that encourage innovation and competition and enhance productivity and economic growth. The Government acknowledges the role ASIC has played in implementing the Government’s Regulatory Reform Agenda, including its contributions towards reducing red tape. The Government expects ASIC to continue to reduce red tape and contribute more broadly to the Government’s renewed regulatory reform agenda.
- The Government also expects ASIC to comply with the Government’s Regulatory Impact Analysis requirements for all regulatory proposals. These include using the Regulatory Burden Measurement framework when considering the impacts of regulation on business and the community and costing proposals before they are introduced.
- ASIC should act in accordance with regulatory best practice in making decisions, and adopting policies and processes, and in communicating with stakeholders, to maximise effectiveness, efficiency and transparency, and to minimise compliance costs. The Government expects ASIC to review its policies and procedures regularly to identify improvements to achieve best practice in these areas.
- ASIC is subject to the Regulator Performance Framework, which requires regulators to make an annual assessment of their performance in the administration of regulation which includes reporting on its red tape reduction activities.
- The Government’s preference is for principles-based regulation, which identifies the desired outcomes and allows industry participants to achieve the outcomes in their own way, rather than prescribing specific conduct. A principles-based approach is more flexible and is likely to accommodate change within the economy, allow for innovation and enterprise, and reduce compliance costs, by allowing regulated entities to determine the best way to meet regulatory objectives.
Relationship with the regulated population and industry stakeholders
- The Government expects ASIC to have an open and sound working relationship with supervised entities and to ensure that industry participants are encouraged to communicate considered and candid views to ASIC. ASIC must be able to engage with market participants and the public to explain ASIC’s actions in a manner consistent with its enabling legislation.
- The Government expects ASIC to engage with its regulated population, including through the use of its external advisory panels, to understand contemporary market practices, more effective ways for ASIC to perform its functions and emerging trends. The Government expects ASIC to develop stakeholder management capabilities including as set out in ASIC’s Implementation Plan and to engage proactively with industry in a way that promotes greater compliance with the law.
- Where ASIC has powers to make orders or rules, modify the law or make exemptions, it should use those powers to the greatest extent possible, consistent with its enabling legislation. Where the exercise of that power would have significant implications for the market or the regulated population, the Government expects ASIC to consult with stakeholders and provide appropriate time to implement the regulatory change.
- The Government expects that ASIC will publish regulatory guides in a timely and efficient manner. The Government also expects ASIC to identify opportunities to collaborate with the private sector in regulating and monitoring particular industries where collaboration (including co-regulation, quasi-regulation or self-regulation) can deliver better regulatory outcomes.
Relationship with the government and the responsible ministers
- ASIC plays an essential role in ensuring that the Government is well placed to respond promptly to issues that may arise in the financial and corporate regulatory policy areas. This includes informing the Government in a timely manner about problems that ASIC has encountered in performing its regulatory functions, as well as significant market developments.
- The Government expects ASIC to provide Treasury portfolio Ministers with accurate and timely advice on significant issues in ASIC’s core areas of responsibility. Examples include matters which the Government may be required to discuss in Parliament, important operational or budgetary issues, and decisions regarding the appropriate action for ASIC to take following substantial problems or disruption in the market.
- The Minister and the Chair of ASIC will meet at least quarterly to discuss emerging issues and the Chair will provide an annual report to the Minister on strategic regulatory issues, covering ASIC’s assessment of emerging trends and risks in all major market segments and the actions ASIC has taken in response.
- In addition, the Minister and the Chair of ASIC will also meet at least annually to discuss ASIC’s performance. This meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how effective Commissioners have been in engaging with stakeholders and acting strategically to meet ASIC’s objectives. The discussion will draw on feedback from the Financial Sector Advisory Council and other stakeholders on ASIC’s performance and ASIC’s progress in achieving its intended goals, including those articulated in ASIC’s Corporate Plan and continuing to operate consistently with actions outlined in ASIC’s Implementation Plan.
- The Minister has delegated to ASIC some of the Minister’s powers under the Corporations Act 2001 and other Acts. The Government expects ASIC to exercise the Minister’s delegated powers in accordance with any guidelines that have been issued by the Minister with respect to those powers.
Relationship with the Treasury
- The Government expects the Treasury and ASIC to maintain a close relationship to support the Treasury’s role in advising the Treasury Ministers. This is an important way for ASIC to contribute to policy development.
- In working with the Treasury, the Government expects ASIC to:
- provide the Secretary to the Treasury with a copy of all information, briefings, press releases and correspondence provided to Ministers;
- keep the Secretary to the Treasury appropriately informed of significant meetings between ASIC and Government Ministers and other Parliamentary bodies; and
- advise the Treasury about changes to legislation that, in ASIC’s opinion, would assist in improving the regulatory framework in a manner that minimises compliance costs for business and the community.
Relationship with other government bodies and regulators
- The Government expects ASIC to meet regularly with and maintain collaborative working relationships with other Commonwealth and State and Territory agencies (including the agencies of the Council of Financial Regulators (CFR)). ASIC is also expected to have a collaborative working relationship with its counterpart regulators in overseas jurisdictions and international regulatory bodies.
- The Government expects ASIC to work with the CFR and other government bodies to identify and make the Government aware of emerging issues and gaps in regulation that could pose systemic risks.
- The Government expects ASIC to work collaboratively with other regulators and government bodies and if there are areas of regulatory overlap, to clearly articulate its areas of responsibility. ASIC should also co-operate with other bodies to avoid duplication of supervisory activities and consider whether outcomes could be achieved by using existing regulation administered by another regulator. This is to ensure an integrated regulatory framework and to reduce compliance costs for regulated entities.
- The Government expects that ASIC consider the outcomes or recommendations of relevant Government established panels, reviews or inquiries.
- The Government expects the Chair of ASIC to meet regularly with the Financial Sector Advisory Council to provide an update on contemporary regulatory issues and to discuss ASIC’s priorities, engagement strategies, ongoing performance and emerging market practices.
Transparency and accountability
- ASIC operates as part of the Australian Government and is accountable to the Parliament, and ultimately to the public, through the Treasury Ministers, the Parliamentary Committee process and the tabling of its Annual Report.
- The Government expects ASIC to communicate regularly to the public its key decisions and regulatory outcomes and to demonstrate clearly how those decisions and outcomes align with ASIC’s legislative objectives and strategic objectives.
- The Government expects ASIC to comply with the requirements of the whole-of-government performance management framework under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). In particular, the Government expects ASIC to integrate performance measures into its Corporate Plan and subsequently report on outcomes against each measure in its Annual Report. In reporting on its performance, ASIC should seek feedback from its external advisory panels and its regulated population. The Government will assess ASIC performance against the measures in its Corporate Plan as part of its oversight function in determining whether ASIC is successfully achieving its objectives.
- ASIC is required to operate within a budget and this requires choices being made on how resources are used. The requirements for ASIC’s financial management are set out in the PGPA Act and the Finance Minister’s Orders. The Government expects ASIC aim to ensure efficiency in its operations and demonstrate value for money for the services that it delivers.
- The Government’s vision is for ASIC to be considered amongst the best financial regulators in the world. The Government expects ASIC to be a high performing and responsive agency that administers a principles-based regulatory framework in a way that minimises compliance costs for business and the community, provides stability, is efficient and effective and that balances the objectives of ASIC’s statutory objectives set out in the ASIC Act.
ASIC’s Statement of Intent (2018)
This Statement of Intent outlines the response of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to the Government’s Statement of Expectations on ASIC’s role, responsibilities and relationships with stakeholders. It also reflects on operational matters, and issues of transparency and accountability.
We welcome the Government’s Statement of Expectations (SoE) and its commitment to ASIC’s independence. In particular, we support the Government’s view that we should continue to act independently and objectively in the exercise of our powers.
Our vision is for a fair, strong and efficient financial system for all Australians.
Regulatory mission: To realise our vision we will use all our regulatory tools to:
- change behaviours to drive good consumer and investor outcomes
- act against misconduct to maintain trust and integrity in the financial system
- promote strong and innovative development of the financial system
- help Australians to be in control of their financial lives.
Registry mission: To realise our vision we will provide efficient and accessible business registers that make it easier to do business.
We aim to be a strategic as well as a forceful regulator by:
- using our finite resources to address serious harms and produce the greatest impact on industry participant behaviour and consumer and investor outcomes
- adapting and evolving as circumstances change.
We work to ensure financial services providers act professionally, treat consumers fairly and prioritise consumers' best interests; and issuers provide financial products that meet consumers' needs.
Note: The following sections are based on the structure of the SoE and, for ease of reading, reference the paragraphs of the SoE to which they respond.
Our regulatory approach
We have a number of regulatory tools available to us to address the risks and harms that threaten good consumer outcomes and fair and efficient markets. These include: enforcement action, supervision, surveillance, engagement with industry and other stakeholders, guidance, education and policy advice. For most of the issues in our remit, we will use a number of these tools to achieve the solution. [SoE paras 7–9]
Our new threat, harm and behaviour framework is a process that identifies regulatory risks in the market to inform the strategic priorities in our Corporate Plan. This framework helps to prioritise enforcement and other regulatory actions targeting particular harms to investors, consumers and markets. Given the breadth of ASIC's responsibility, our task of prioritising and allocating resources is critical. [SoE para 9]
When we identify a potential breach of the law or harm, we will determine what is the most appropriate response. Broadly, we consider the following factors in deciding which regulatory tool or tools we will use:
- its strategic significance (e.g. the seriousness of the misconduct or harm and taking into account our strategic priorities)
- the likelihood of success (of using one or more of the tools available to us)
- the issues specific to the case (e.g. availability of evidence)
- the consequences of pursuing misconduct (e.g. obtainable remedies for the purposes of punishing or deterring misconduct and protecting or compensating consumers)
- the availability of resources. [SoE paras 7–8]
On an ongoing basis, we supervise the entities we regulate through a combination of risk-based surveillance, reviews aimed at particular entities and thematic reviews aimed at issues across the relevant sector.
We are looking at ways to build on our substantial enforcement outcomes, which may include making greater use of external expertise and resources to accelerate the enforcement process.
We are also implementing a new and more intensive supervisory approach for Australia’s largest financial institutions and superannuation entities. This will include regularly placing staff onsite in financial institutions to closely monitor governance and compliance actions.
We plan increased collaboration with fellow regulators, particularly the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) for entities that are regulated by both agencies.
We will continue to encourage the adoption of regulatory technology solutions or ’regtech’ in the financial system. Regtech will be an important tool in overcoming significant challenges facing Australia’s financial system and has the potential to promote better consumer outcomes. [SoE paras 7–9]
We are building our analytics capability to monitor financial services and markets to identify harms and respond to misconduct. This includes:
- increasing our range of data analytics and our number of data science professionals
- developing data science labs and production infrastructure to experiment with and deploy advanced analytics techniques
- conducting advanced analytics trials to detect misconduct. [SoE para 11]
We consider our statutory objectives, including facilitating and improving the performance of the financial system (fair and efficient markets) and promoting the confident and informed participation of investors and consumers, to be generally complementary. A proposed legislative amendment to our mandate in relation to competition will require us to consider the effects that the performance of our functions and the exercise of our powers will have on competition in the financial system, along with our existing objectives.
We will continue to pursue all of our objectives to the maximum extent possible and, where they conflict, we will be transparent about any trade-offs. [SoE paras 12–15]
We are responsible for engaging with consumers and industry to promote confident and informed participation by investors and consumers in the financial system.
Our consumer education program provides a platform to better understand the needs and behavior of consumers and to communicate directly with them. These interactions support our regulatory work and inform resources for consumers and investors.
Our Moneysmart website is a starting point for consumers and investors to make informed financial decisions. It provides free, independent guidance and superannuation and retirement calculators for consumers.
Responding to changing circumstances
We continue to enhance our techniques to review the sectors we regulate, including identifying our strategic priorities in each year’s Corporate Plan. This plan identifies regulatory risks or threats, the behaviours that underpin them and the harms they cause. We also consider how these harms and risks may affect our ability to achieve our priorities and objectives. [SoE para 17]
We are enhancing our management information systems to improve strategic oversight and prioritisation. For example, our Regulatory Transformation initiatives to enhance our management information systems and regulatory analytics will improve how we work. The 'One ASIC' principle imbedded in this exercise is aimed at helping ASIC teams work better together to deliver effective regulatory outcomes.
Our workforce planning is strategic and forward-looking. Our people and development processes include integrated workforce capability planning to ensure we respond appropriately to changing circumstances. We will continue to report annually on initiatives to enhance our capabilities in our Corporate Plan and Annual Report. [SoE para 19]
We have implemented all the key recommendations of the ASIC Capability Review. Ongoing work on some of the recommendations is now built into ASIC’s business as usual, or projects such as the Regulatory Transformation Program and internal governance arrangements. In line with the Capability Review's recommendations we also continue to adopt a strategic approach to our corporate planning and regulatory decision making.
Following the introduction of industry funding on 1 July 2017, we will consult annually on industry levies through our Cost Recovery Implementation Statement (CRIS). The CRIS ensures our costs are clear and transparent and provides information on how the cost of our regulatory activities will be recovered from each industry subsector. It includes our forecast of the work we will undertake for each subsector for each financial year and what it will cost to carry out that work. It also includes an explanation of the design of the levy for each subsector.
We will also consult regularly on industry funding in our external committees and panels, with a particular focus on seeking feedback during the CRIS consultation process.
These actions are key elements of our commitment to transparency and accountability under the industry funding model. The CRIS will provide information on the actual expenses we incurred in the previous year and explain any material variation compared to the estimates in the previous year’s CRIS. [SoE paras 20–21]
The Government’s policy priorities for the financial system
We support the Government’s commitment to increasing consumer trust and confidence in the financial system and combating misconduct. We seek to take action against misconduct and the resulting harms to consumers and market integrity. [SoE para 22]
Product intervention power and design and distribution obligations
Once enacted, the product intervention power will allow ASIC to intervene on a temporary basis to address consumer detriment that may be caused by potentially harmful financial and credit products that fall within the scope of the power. The proposed power will ensure our regulatory action will be better targeted and tailored to dealing with consumer detriment in these products. We see this power as a critical addition to our suite of regulatory tools.
The proposed design and distribution obligations will strengthen issuer and distributor accountability to ensure that products are designed with consumer needs in mind and are marketed to appropriate sections of the population. [SoE para 22]
ASIC Enforcement Review
ASIC welcomes the findings of the ASIC Enforcement Review Task Force, and the Government's positive response to its recommendations. We believe that the implementation of the recommendations will enhance our enforcement toolkit and improve our ability to act against misconduct to maintain trust and integrity in the financial system.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority
ASIC will supervise the operation of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), a body that provides access to effective external dispute resolution and is a central part of the financial services consumer protection framework. AFCA will report to ASIC about its activities, including systemic issues and serious contraventions by entities. We will actively monitor AFCA to promote the effective working of the scheme. [SoE para 22]
ASIC supports the Government’s work to reform Australia’s corporate sector whistleblowing regime. These reforms encourage increased reporting of corporate wrongdoing and provide better protection for whistleblowers.
Our experience in assisting whistleblowers and dealing with the information they provide has led us to regularly review and enhance our own processes. It also provides us with practical insights while we support the Government’s ongoing work to reform the whistleblowing regime.
Under the whistleblower reforms, ASIC is expected to receive any report from whistleblowers related to, among other things, any misconduct or improper state of affairs in relation to a company. [SoE para 23]
We endeavour to encourage and support innovation in the financial sector – for example, through our relief or waiver powers we provide flexibility in the regulatory regime to allow for innovation. Meanwhile, through our Innovation Hub and regulatory sandbox we assist Australian fintech start-ups navigate our regulatory system.
The Innovation Hub and regulatory sandbox:
- assists eligible businesses with informal guidance on the licensing process and key regulatory issues
- provides waivers (e.g. through the sandbox), which allow eligible fintech and other businesses to test certain services for up to 12 months without an Australian financial services licence or Australian credit licence.
ASIC actively encourages entities to leverage regulatory data and regtech to better understand and manage their compliance risks. We are conducting trials with external regtech providers to accelerate our understanding and adoption of regtech to monitor and respond to misconduct. [SoE para 24]
We support the Government’s initiatives in relation to Open Banking, which we consider empowers consumers to make better decisions, promoting competition in financial services. [SoE para 25]
The Government’s regulatory reform program
Regulatory reform agenda
We continue to look for opportunities to reduce the regulatory cost burden for business and improve regulatory efficiency.
Examples of how we provide compliance savings include: granting waivers from the law, facilitating international recognition of our laws, improving systems to enable faster and better interaction with us, and recommending law reform that will have a deregulatory benefit. [SoE para 26]
Regulatory impact analysis
We have a strong history of incorporating best practice regulatory principles into our policy development process, and we have been consistently compliant with Office of Best Practice Regulation requirements. We will continue to comply with the Government’s regulatory impact analysis requirements. [SoE para 27]
We support the Government’s preference for principles-based regulation, which identifies desired outcomes, allowing regulated entities to determine the best way to achieve those outcomes. Highly prescriptive rules can result in technicalities, arbitrary distinctions and an overly technical or ‘tick-a-box’ approach to compliance. [SoE para 30]
Regulated population and industry stakeholders
In order to achieve our vision for a fair, strong and efficient financial system for all Australians, we will continue to actively and extensively engage with our diverse range of stakeholders. We engage with regulated entities, consumers (including small business) and academics in a variety of ways – for example, through advisory panels, roundtables on specific issues across sectors and regular meetings. These forms of engagement help us to:
- gain a deeper understanding of industry and consumer developments
- consult on policy matters
- consider, and help to address, systemic risks or harms in the sectors we regulate
- discover potentially harmful behaviours by particular entities.
Commission-level engagement with stakeholders, at all levels, further assists us understand market trends and emerging issues.
For engagement with industry to be effective, regulated entities need to be transparent, open and cooperative with us. [SoE paras 31–34]
Government and responsible Ministers
In accordance with our statutory objectives, we will continue to provide advice to the Minister on law reform that might be required to overcome problems we encounter in administering or enforcing the legislation, or as a response to developments in the financial markets. [SoE para 35]
The ASIC Chair, ASIC Commissioners and senior ASIC officials will continue to regularly liaise with the Treasurer and other responsible Ministers. Moreover, we will continue to inform Treasury Portfolio Ministers of significant issues arising in our areas of responsibility, including about matters which the Government may be required to discuss in Parliament. [SoE paras 36–38]
We will continue to work closely with Treasury on all relevant matters. In addition, we keep the Secretary to the Treasury and other senior Treasury officials informed of significant interactions with, and information provided to, Ministers.
We are working with Treasury on protocols to enhance our work together in relation to legislative proposals. [SoE paras 40–41]
Other Government bodies and regulators
We have effective relationships with our peer agencies in Australia and overseas. These relationships are supported by memoranda of understanding with agencies and membership of cooperative bodies made up of peer agencies (e.g. the Council of Financial Regulators and the International Organization of Securities Commissions). [SoE para 42]
We work closely with organisations such as APRA, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Taxation Office, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Federal Police, as well as with local police authorities. [SoE para 43]
Where there are areas of common interest we continue to communicate and co-operate both informally and formally at a variety of levels with our fellow regulators. We will continue to look for opportunities to enhance the ways we work together. These mechanisms for cooperation are in place to ensure, to the extent possible, that actions by each regulator do not result in an inconsistent or duplicative regulatory burden. Where regulated populations overlap, we will clearly explain our area of responsibility. The nature of our cooperation will continue to evolve as our regulatory tools and remit evolves. [SoE para 44]
Coordination and information sharing
We recognise that, to do our job most effectively and efficiently, we need to coordinate and share information with other regulators. We have both formal and informal information-sharing arrangements in place with other regulators and law enforcement bodies, including our overseas counterparts. These relationships help us to ensure that financial system regulation is as streamlined and as integrated as possible. [SoE para 44]
Communication, accountability and transparency
We always seek to be transparent about what we do and why we do it. We explain our role, regulatory priorities and the use of all our regulatory tools. We communicate the regulatory outcomes we achieve and our expectations of the regulated population. We do this by, for example, giving presentations and speeches, issuing media releases after taking enforcement action, and publishing regulatory guidance and feedback reports following policy consultations. These activities are conducted under our communications strategy, which we will continue to enhance. We are improving how we use communication channels, including digital channels such as social media. [SoE para 20]
We believe in accountability. We are subject to a range of transparency and accountability measures for financial, regulatory and performance activity. Annually we publish our:
- Corporate Plan, which communicates our strategic priorities, the harms we see and how we will address them, and includes our performance indicators, to meet the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. We also publish summary business plans for each sector [SoE paras 47–49]
- Annual Report, which reports our outcomes against the strategic priorities outlined in our Corporate Plan, includes consideration of our capabilities, and provides an Annual Performance Statement with information about our activities and the outcomes achieved in the year [SoE paras 47– 49]
- self-assessment against the Regulator Performance Framework, with six outcomes-based indicators, including: reducing regulatory burden, processes for assessment (including self-assessment and external review processes), transparency, and other matters. [SoE para 29]
We regularly appear before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, the Senate Standing Committees on Economics and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics. We also report annually in our Portfolio Budget Statement and through the tabling of our Annual Report. We will continue to meet our obligations to the Parliament. Our decisions are also subject to judicial and administrative review, providing a further level of accountability. [SoE para 47]
We are also committed to keeping whistleblowers and members of the public who report potential misconduct to us informed about our consideration and response to their report. However, for confidentiality reasons, we are constrained in how much detail we can provide during the course of our review of reports and any subsequent investigation.
We aim to be a high performing and responsive agency that delivers on our objectives, as set out in the ASIC Act, and contributes to Australia’s economic growth. Our aim is to encourage and facilitate a fair, strong and efficient financial system for all Australians.
In keeping with the Government’s vision, we intend to carry out our role consistent with being a leading global financial regulator. [SoE paras 50–51]
Australian Government’s Statement of Expectations (2014)
This Statement outlines the Government’s expectations about the role and responsibilities of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), its relationship with the Government, issues of transparency and accountability and operational matters. It forms part of the Government’s commitment to good corporate governance of agencies and reducing the regulatory burden on business and the community.
ASIC plays a key role in achieving a sound and effective financial and corporate regulatory framework. Its objectives include to maintain, facilitate and improve the performance of the financial system (including fair and efficient markets), promote the confident and informed participation of investors and consumers, and conduct an efficient registry.
It is imperative that ASIC act independently and objectively in performing its functions and exercising its powers as set out in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act). Nevertheless, the Government expects that ASIC take into account the Government’s broad policy framework, including its deregulation agenda, in performing its role and meeting its responsibilities.
The Government’s deregulation agenda
The Government is committed to reducing red tape and compliance costs for business and the community as a critical step towards improving Australia’s productivity.
The Government is overhauling the process for creating, implementing and reviewing new regulation. This includes a process within Government whereby the costs and benefits of additional regulation are carefully balanced, and the costs of new regulations are offset.
The Government expects that ASIC will look for opportunities to reduce compliance costs for business and the community and contribute to the Government’s $1 billion red and green tape reduction target.
The Government also expects that ASIC will comply with the Government’s enhanced Regulatory Impact Analysis requirements for all regulatory proposals, including considering the impacts of regulation on business and the community and costing proposals before they are introduced using the Regulatory Burden Measurement framework.
Enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of key economic regulators including ASIC will make a major contribution to the deregulation agenda and help to boost productivity.
The Government expects that ASIC will act in accordance with regulatory best practice in its decision-making, policies, processes and communication practices to maximise effectiveness, efficiency and transparency, and minimise compliance costs. ASIC should regularly review its policies and procedures to identify improvements to achieve these goals.
The Government’s preference is for principles based regulation that identifies the desired outcomes rather than prescribing how to achieve them. An outcomes based approach is more likely to accommodate change within the economy, allow for innovation and enterprise and reduce compliance costs by allowing regulated entities to determine the best way of meeting regulatory objectives.
The Government also considers that regulators should adopt a risk-based approach to compliance obligations, engagement and enforcement, allowing for proportionate approaches suited to the size, nature, complexity and risk of regulated entities. This allows regulators to achieve their objectives more efficiently and reduce the overall regulatory burden, particularly for small businesses. This approach also recognises that it is not possible or efficient to eliminate all risks and that trade-offs in risk reductions are necessary.
The Government will provide ASIC with further detail about a whole of government risk management framework and expectations for ASIC’s performance against specific performance indicators in the second half of 2014.
Relationship between ASIC and the Government
The Government recognises and respects the statutory independence of ASIC and its responsibility for financial and corporate regulation as provided by statute. Confidence in the regulatory framework requires that ASIC is, and is seen to be, exercising independent judgment about the application of the regulatory framework to individual circumstances.
Nevertheless, ASIC was established to administer regulatory frameworks that implement government policies and priorities relating to business regulation generally and financial and corporate regulation in particular. The Government has primary responsibility for setting financial and corporate regulatory policy. ASIC should consider the outcomes or recommendations of relevant Government established panels, reviews or inquiries.
Where ASIC has powers to make orders or rules, modify the law or make exemptions, and the exercise of that power would have significant implications for the market or regulated population, the Government expects that ASIC will consult as appropriate with stakeholders and the Government. ASIC should take into account the Government’s broad policy framework and have due regard to minimising costs to business without compromising commercial certainty.
Relationship with the responsible Minister
ASIC plays an essential role in ensuring that the Government is well placed to respond promptly to issues that may arise in financial and corporate regulatory policy, including problems ASIC has encountered in performing its regulatory functions.
Another key role of ASIC is to provide Treasury portfolio Ministers with accurate and timely advice on significant issues in its core area of business. Significant issues might include: matters for which the Government is likely to be accountable in Parliament; important ASIC operational or budgetary issues; and ASIC’s decisions regarding the appropriate action for it to take following substantial problems or disruption in the market, including a substantial breach of the corporate regulatory framework.
Relationship with Treasury
Treasury’s key role is to support and advise me and other Treasury Ministers in our responsibilities by being the principal source of advice on a wide range of issues including policy development and the performance of the regulatory system.
The Government expects that Treasury and ASIC will maintain a close relationship. Treasury takes into account the views and experience of ASIC when considering and advising on changes to financial and corporate policy and legislation to facilitate consistency between the objectives of legislation and its practical implementation. By advising Treasury on the operational implications of Government policy initiatives, ASIC contributes to policy development.
All information, briefing, press releases and correspondence provided to Ministers by ASIC should be copied by ASIC to the Secretary to the Treasury. ASIC should also keep the Secretary to the Treasury appropriately informed of significant high level meetings between ASIC and Government Ministers and other key policy figures.
ASIC should advise Treasury about changes to legislation that in ASIC’s opinion would assist in improving the regulatory framework and minimising compliance costs for business and the community.
The Government expects that ASIC will maintain robust, effective and collaborative working partnerships with other Commonwealth and State and Territory agencies, as well as ASIC’s counterpart regulators in overseas jurisdictions, to ensure the proper functioning of Australia’s regulatory framework. ASIC should also avoid the duplication of the supervisory activities of other regulators, and should consider whether outcomes could be achieved by using existing regulation administered by another regulator, in order to ensure an integrated regulatory framework and reduce compliance costs.
Transparency and accountability
ASIC was established as an independent body to administer the financial and corporate regulatory framework. Nevertheless, ASIC operates as part of the Australian Government and is accountable to the Parliament, and ultimately to the public, through the Treasury Ministers, the Parliamentary Committee process and the tabling of its annual report.
The Government expects ASIC to have an open and sound working relationship with the entities that it supervises. It is important that industry participants are encouraged to communicate considered and candid views to ASIC in order to enhance the regulatory framework and outcomes, and minimise compliance costs.
Organisational governance and financial management
ASIC has capacity to employ staff under the Public Service Act 1999 (PSA) as well as under the ASIC Act. Under the PSA, agencies are required to uphold and promote the APS Values. All APS employees are required to adhere to the APS Code of Conduct. ASIC is also required to comply with the APS Bargaining Framework in relation to APS employees.
The requirements for ASIC’s financial management are set out in the relevant legislation and the Finance Minister’s Orders. In this regard, I note that ASIC must comply with the Government’s recent requirements in relation to approval for overseas travel. The Government expects that ASIC will continue efforts to secure improved efficiency in their operations and demonstrate value for money for the services that it delivers.
The Government’s vision is for ASIC to be a high performing and responsive agency that administers a principles based regulatory framework in a way that minimises compliance costs for business and the community, provides stability, is efficient and effective, and that balances the objectives of ASIC’s statutory objectives set out in the ASIC Act.
ASIC’s Statement of Intent (2014)
This Statement of Intent outlines the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC’s) response to the Government’s Statement of Expectations about ASIC’s role, responsibilities and relationship with government, issues of transparency and accountability and operational matters.
ASIC’s objective and strategic priorities
ASIC’s fundamental objective is to allow markets to allocate capital efficiently to fund the real economy and, in turn, economic growth. This contributes to improved standards of living for all Australians.
We achieve this objective through our strategic priorities, which are to ensure:
- confident and informed investors and financial consumers
- fair and efficient markets, and
- efficient registration and licensing.
These strategic priorities reflect ASIC’s mandate under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act).
ASIC’s statutory role does not involve preventing the risk of all investor losses or ensuring full compensation for investors in all instances where losses arise.
The challenges for ASIC in the future are:
- balancing free markets and confident and informed participation by investors and financial consumers, with a particular focus on deregulation
- structural change in our financial system through the growth of market based financing, which is largely driven by superannuation
- financial innovation-driven complexity in products, markets and technology, and
Achieving our strategic priorities
In achieving our strategic priorities and dealing with our challenges, a key aspect of what we do is identifying and dealing with those who break the law.
We do this to the best of our ability through our detect, understand and respond approach.
We detect misconduct or the risk of misconduct by gathering intelligence through:
- proactive and reactive surveillance
- breach reporting, and
- reports from whistleblowers and the public.
We adopt a risk-based approach to surveillance so that our actions are appropriate and proportionate. This approach assists us to allocate our resources efficiently to achieve the greatest market impact.
We understand by analysing the intelligence we receive.
Depending on our resources and powers, we respond to misconduct or the risk of misconduct by:
- educating investors
- providing guidance to gatekeepers
- disrupting harmful behaviour
- taking enforcement action, and
- providing policy advice to Government.
We do our best to help investors and financial consumers make appropriate choices in their dealings with financial services providers, including through our MoneySmart website and, for example, through a current focus on financial services advertising.
Each year we take a wide range of actions to enforce the law and deal with misconduct that puts investors and fair and efficient markets at risk. By enforcing the law, we seek to deter future misconduct by:
- those individuals involved in the misconduct, and
- the broader business community through greater awareness of the consequences of breaching the law.
The enforcement outcomes we achieve can be:
- punitive (e.g. jail)
- protective (e.g. disqualifying someone from managing a corporation)
- preservative (e.g. court action to protect assets)
- compensatory (e.g. action to recover damages for those who have suffered loss)
- corrective (e.g. a court order to make corrective disclosure), or
- a negotiated outcome (e.g. an enforceable undertaking).
The Government’s deregulation agenda
Reducing red tape and compliance costs
ASIC is aware of the burden unnecessary red tape can impose on business and the potential impact of this on productivity. To address this, we continue to pursue initiatives to reduce red tape for individuals and businesses. We have already made significant recent progress in reducing the burden of red tape and contributed to the Government’s annual $1 billion red tape reduction target. To facilitate business we:
- use our relief powers
- actively work with Treasury to propose law changes
- streamline our processes, and
- implement changes to make it easier for business to interact with us and meet their obligations.
For example we have reviewed our forms and identified opportunities to remove or streamline approximately 10% of the forms businesses and individuals submit to ASIC. This will reduce compliance costs for businesses and save businesses time.
Regulatory impact analysis
ASIC has a strong history of incorporating best practice regulation principles into our policy development process, and has been consistently compliant with Office of Best Practice Regulation requirements.
We will continue to comply with the Government’s new Regulatory Impact Analysis requirements, noting the Government’s focus on compliance costs. We will also continue to balance the impacts of regulation on business and the community with the regulatory benefit.
Outcomes-focused, risk-based regulation
Risk appetite and resource allocation
ASIC can operate at a range of resource levels, but resourcing will affect the outcomes we seek to achieve. For example, we will continue to focus our proactive risk-based surveillance on areas of high risk to investors and financial consumers, markets and market participants and on those entities and activities that have the greatest market impact. We will focus on financial advisers and managed investment schemes. We will also continue to undertake reactive surveillance where we see possible misconduct.
ASIC looks forward to the development of a whole-of-government risk framework. We welcome broad guidance on appropriate levels of regulatory risk.
Outcomes-focused, principles-based regulation
ASIC supports the Government’s preference for outcomes-focused regulation. We welcome broad strategic direction from Government on regulatory outcomes. We will seek to achieve these outcomes in the most effective way, using the resources available to us.
ASIC also supports the Government’s preference for principles-based regulation but notes that this can lead to demand from some industry bodies or participants for more certainty through guidance from the regulator on what is required to comply with the law.
ASIC looks forward to the development of specific performance indicators to provide objective measures of success in achieving our statutory role. This would also provide greater transparency for end-users, industry and Government.
Relationship between ASIC and the Government
ASIC welcomes the Government’s support for our independence. Equally, we respect the Government’s overarching responsibility for setting financial and corporate regulatory policy. We will continue to take the Government’s broad policy framework – including the deregulation agenda – into account as we work on achieving our strategic priorities.
Where ASIC has power to give class order relief or make rules, and the exercise of that power would have significant implications for the market or regulated population, we will consult with stakeholders and the Government.
Relationship with the responsible Minister
In accordance with our statutory objectives, ASIC will continue to provide advice to the Minister on law reform that might be required to overcome problems we encounter in administering or enforcing the legislation, or as a response to changes in the financial markets.
As contemplated by the Statement of Expectations we will also continue to inform the Minister of significant issues arising in our areas of responsibility.
Relationship with Treasury
ASIC recognises Treasury’s role in supporting and advising the Treasurer and other Treasury portfolio ministers. We will continue to work closely with Treasury as we develop substantive operational policies and keep the Secretary to the Treasury informed of significant interactions with Ministers.
To support Treasury’s role as the principal source of advice on policy development and the performance of the regulatory system, ASIC will copy information to the Secretary of the Treasury in parallel to that information being provided to Ministers. This is subject to ASIC’s position as an independent agency and any legislative requirements that may limit our ability to provide such information to Treasury.
ASIC has sound and effective relationships with our peer agencies, both in Australia and overseas. These relationships are supported by memoranda of understanding with relevant agencies and membership of the Council of Financial Regulators and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
ASIC also maintains operational and policy relationships with organisations such as the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP), as well as with local police authorities.
ASIC has both formal and informal information-sharing arrangements in place with other regulators and law enforcement bodies, including our overseas counterparts.
These relationships help ASIC ensure that economic regulation is as streamlined and as integrated as possible.
Transparency and accountability
ASIC appreciates the importance of transparency and accountability in ensuring our effectiveness as a regulator.
ASIC regularly appears before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services and the Senate Economics Committee. ASIC also reports annually in our portfolio budget statement and through the tabling of our annual report. We have demonstrated our commitment to fulfilling our obligations to the Parliament and will continue to do so.
ASIC decisions are also subject to judicial and administrative review, providing a further level of accountability.
Transparency and communications
ASIC is committed to open working relationships with the entities we regulate. Along with our regular one-to-one communications with many of our regulated entities, we have recently focused on improving our public transparency and communications.
For example, we:
- have increased our commitment to publicising disruption activities or outcomes that do not involve formal proceedings
- have new processes for investors and financial consumers to report misconduct to us
- publish an overview every six months on individual relief applications made to ASIC to increase the quality of information available about the decisions we make, and
- are increasingly using media like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to communicate to a broader audience.
We are also committed to publishing a new corporate plan, commencing in 2014–15, which will outline the key risks confronting our stakeholders and our responses to these risks. This will provide more transparency for stakeholders about the regulatory outcomes we are seeking to achieve and increase ASIC accountability.
Transparency in enforcement
In our enforcement role, we are conscious of the need to be as transparent as possible in the decisions we make and the actions we take. Over the past three years, we have improved the transparency of our enforcement work.
- information sheets that describe how, when and why we take enforcement action and the circumstances in which we may make public comment on it
- reports on enforcement outcomes twice a year, and
- in our annual report, how we use our compulsory information-gathering powers.
Our enforcement teams are currently reviewing guidelines for how they communicate with witnesses, victims and persons of interest at all stages of an investigation.
We promote accountability and transparency in our actions by working closely with stakeholders. For example, we:
- will continue to work on enhancing the sound and open relationships we have with our stakeholders, such as industry participants and investor advocates, to improve regulatory outcomes
- have a number of formal consultation mechanisms, including our:
- External Advisory Panel
- Market Supervision Advisory Panel
- Consumer Advisory Panel
- Directors Advisory Panel
- have a dedicated small business team to lead our small business engagement. ASIC looks forward to further guidance from the Government with respect to engagement with small business
- seek feedback and measure and report on our performance by way of our stakeholder surveys and other targeted initiatives, such as our small business survey, and
- will continue to measure our performance against a published Service Charter. We will keep our Service Charter under review to ensure it remains relevant and useful.
Organisational governance and financial management
ASIC’s staff are highly skilled, professional and dedicated to their work. They have diverse backgrounds, including experience in law, accounting, and financial services. Many have strong industry or investor advocacy experience. They understand how markets work and the issues facing investors and financial consumers and industry. For these reasons, ASIC staff are sought after by the private sector and regulators overseas.
We are committed to ensuring that all our staff continue to uphold and promote the Australian Public Service (APS) values and comply with the APS Code of Conduct.
ASIC will continue to meet our financial management obligations and deliver outcomes as cost-effectively as possible.
ASIC intends to continue to be a high performing and responsive agency that delivers on our objectives as set out in the ASIC Act to contribute to Australia’s economic growth.