ASIC technical adviser to the deputy chair, Kate Metz, said ASIC was supportive of the digital advice industry in Australia, especially in terms of reaching the 80 per cent of the market that are currently unable to access advice.
“Our view is that the law is technology-neutral, there’s no reason why you can’t offer digital advice,” Ms Metz told accountants at the CPA National SMSF Conference.
“If you look at stats, only 20 per cent of Australian consumers currently receive financial advice, and that’s arguably much lower than it should be, so we see digital advice as a way of reaching that other 80 per cent of people who may have fairly simple advice needs.”
Ms Metz stressed that the providers of robo-advice will need to consider a number of key compliance issues, relating to how to comply with the best interests duty in the digital advice environment, monitoring algorithms and providing guidance on how the licensee should do that.
“We will also be providing guidance for the training standards of responsible managers and advice providers,” she said.
“We are looking to finalise our guidance in the next few weeks, so we will be releasing a final regulatory guide on digital advice issues. Through our innovation hub we have an open door policy, so if people want to talk to us about digital advice, they’re very welcome to come in and discuss digital advice models.”
Ms Metz also advised accounting firms to adopt specialists to focus solely on offering holistic advice to clients.
“We’ve got tax advice regulated under the one area, financial planning under another, consumer credit advice under another, and yet quite often you need all three skill sets to offer one piece of advice,” she said.
“Obviously keeping across all three areas of post-regulatory change, especially things like tax, is really challenging in a practice. So having a model where you have specialists as opposed to generalists is going to be one way of ensuring a quality service for your client and keeping the client at the practice with all the services they need.”