Complying with the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules 2017
Under the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules 2017 (ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules), Australian financial services (AFS) licensees that hold ‘reportable client money’ must comply with a number of record-keeping, reconciliation and reporting requirements. ‘Reportable client money’ is derivative retail client money other than client money held in relation to derivatives traded on domestic exchanges.
This information sheet (INFO 226) answers the following questions:
- What information should you include in your reportable client money records?
- What information should you include in your reconciliations?
- How do you comply with the other reconciliation requirements?
- What information should you include in your reports to ASIC?
- Can you rely on the exemption for licensees subject to ASIC market integrity rules?
Under Rule 2.1.1 of the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules, a licensee must keep accurate records of the amount of reportable client money it is required to hold in a client money account for each client and on an aggregate basis. Under section 981B of the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act), a client money account is generally operated as a trust account and the funds in it must be held on trust for the persons entitled to them. ASIC expects licensees to clearly designate their client money accounts as such: see Regulatory Guide 212 Client money relating to dealing in OTC derivatives (RG 212) at RG 212.15–RG 212.19.
To satisfy this requirement under Rule 2.1.1, a licensee’s records should set out the following information:
- the balance of reportable client money owed to each of the licensee’s clients
- records of transactions that affect the balance of reportable client money held by the licensee, including:
- withdrawals and deposits relating to the purchase and sale of derivatives for, on behalf of, or for the benefit of the client
- withdrawals of client funds under section 981D of the Corporations Act
- investment of client funds under section 981C(a) of the Corporations Act.
Under Part 2.2 of the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules, a licensee must perform daily and monthly reconciliations of the amount of reportable client money that, according to its records, it must hold in a client money account against the amount of reportable client money it is actually holding in that account. The licensee’s record of a reconciliation should set out:
- the total balance of reportable client money owed to the licensee’s clients
- the total amount of reportable client money that is being held, or has otherwise been permissibly withdrawn or invested, by the licensee, including:
- client money held in the licensee’s client money account(s)
- client money held with other brokers (including balances held with each individual broker)
- client money that has been invested under section 981C(a) of the Corporations Act
- client money that has been used in accordance with section 981D of the Corporations Act (noting that retail client money relating to OTC derivatives may no longer be used for this purpose)
- an explanation of any difference between the amount of reportable client money owed to the licensee’s clients and the amount being held, or otherwise permissibly withdrawn or invested, by the licensee
- the total balance of the licensee’s client money account(s) in which it holds reportable client money and the total amount of money other than reportable client money (i.e. non-client money) the licensee holds in the account(s)
- the time and date to which the reconciliation relates
- the time and date on which the reconciliation was performed
- for monthly reconciliations, a signed director’s declaration stating that the director believes, and has no reason not to believe, that the reconciliation is accurate in all respects.
Use of ‘buffers’
Licensees are reminded of their obligations relating to client money and the use of ‘buffers’. Buffer money is the term used to describe amounts of money to which a licensee is solely entitled. It can include a licensee’s deposit of its own funds into the account, or a licensee’s failure to withdraw funds from the account to which it is entitled to – for example, to cover, or make allowance for, any potential shortfall or reconciliation error in the account.
Licensees are reminded that buffer money is not client money. It does not fall within the client money definition in section 981A(1) of the Corporations Act. Accordingly, the practice of depositing buffer money in a client money trust account or segregated account is not permitted: see RG 212 at RG 212.67. Further, any retention of a ‘buffer’ does not remove the reporting and reconciliation obligations for a licensee that would arise but for the buffer, since the buffer is not client money: see RG 212.25–RG 212.27.
Lodging reconciliation records and declarations
The monthly reconciliation records may be lodged through the ASIC Regulatory Portal. The annual declarations under Rule 3.1.2 may also be lodged through the portal.
Under Part 2.2 of the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules, licensees must perform reconciliations on an aggregate basis and on an individual client basis. A licensee may satisfy these requirements by performing an aggregate reconciliation that is supported by individual client balances.
A licensee is also entitled to nominate a reconciliation time and time zone for the purposes of complying with the reconciliation requirements. The licensee must perform daily and monthly reconciliations of the amount of reportable client money it holds as at this nominated reconciliation time on the relevant business day. The licensee must determine its nominated reconciliation time on or before the day the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules first apply to the licensee. If a licensee elects to change its nominated reconciliation time, it must notify ASIC in writing before doing so.
A licensee must give ASIC a written report if:
- the licensee fails to perform a reconciliation as required by the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules, or
- a daily reconciliation performed under the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules identifies a difference (regardless of its significance) between the amount held in a client money account and the amount the licensee is required to hold under the Corporations Act in that client money account.
The report given to ASIC must include:
- the paragraph of Rule 3.1.1(1) to which the report relates
- if applicable, the record of the reconciliation
- the details of the failure to perform a reconciliation or the difference found by a reconciliation, including the cause of the failure or difference
- details of any remedial action taken or proposed to be taken by the licensee, including how the licensee has addressed or is planning to address:
- the problem that led to the difference or failure, or
- any deficiency or surplus in client funds.
In addition, we note that amounts of money to which a licensee is or becomes solely entitled to (e.g. by way of commission or other fees and charges) is not reportable client money, and, consequently, should not impact whether there is a client money deficit in the account that must be reported to ASIC under the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules.
The reports may be sent by email to email@example.com.
Market participants who must comply with the ASIC Market Integrity Rules (Futures Markets) 2017 (ASIC Futures Markets Rules) are eligible for an exemption from the reconciliation requirements under the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules.
Specifically, reconciliations performed by these market participants under the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules need not include amounts of reportable client money already covered by reconciliations that market participants must perform under the ASIC Futures Markets Rules.
In addition, and for the avoidance of doubt, if the market participant’s total balance of reportable client money is required to be included in reconciliations it performs under the ASIC Futures Markets Rules, then it is not required to comply with the ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules.
Where can I get more information?
For more information, see:
- ASIC Client Money Reporting Rules 2017
- ASIC Market Integrity Rules (Futures Markets) 2017
- RG 212 Client money relating to dealing in OTC derivatives
Please note that this information sheet is a summary giving you basic information about a particular topic. It does not cover the whole of the relevant law on that topic, and it is not a substitute for professional advice.
You should also note that because this information sheet avoids legal language wherever possible, it might include some generalisations about the application of the law. Some provisions of the law referred to have exceptions or important qualifications. In most cases you must take into account your particular circumstances when determining how the law applies to you.
This is Information Sheet 226 (INFO 226), reissued in August 2021.