THE Federal Government has warned there is just four months until the end of the transition to the Financial Services Reform Act.
More immediately, it has stressed that applications need to be lodged by December 10 2003 to be guaranteed of processing before the end of the transition period.
Subiaco-based Keysbrook Financial Services was one local firm that acted early to ensure it obtained a new licence.
The company applied in February and was one of the first financial planning firms in Western Australia to secure an Australian Financial Services licence.
“The application process requires a considerable amount of work so we decided to get in early to avoid being distracted from looking after our clients in the final rush to apply,” managing director Simon Joyner said.
He said the new licensing regime would ensure clients of financial planners were fully informed of the benefits, risks and costs associated with the advice they receive.
Keysbrook general manager Wayne Davies said there was no shortage of information to assist people completing their application.
This includes guides produced by the Financial Planning Association and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and free seminars.
“There is plenty of information around that you don’t need to pay for,” Mr Davies said.
He added that the application form was designed in a helpful manner.
“The process of going through the application was the most useful thing.
“It effectively serves as a checklist and that made it quite straightforward.”
Mr Davies said properly run financial planning firms should not have to change the way they run their business as a result of the new licence standards. However, firms would need to ensure they could demonstrate to a third party that they were doing the right thing.
Keysbrook already supported its recommendations for clients with written reports and therefore has not needed to make significant changes.
In a statement issued last week the parliamentary secretary to the treasurer, Ross Cameron, emphasised there would be no extension to the March 10 2004 deadline.
“While there has been an encouraging increase in the number of licence applications received by ASIC in recent months, there are still certain sections of the financial services industry which are ‘dragging the chain’ in applying for licences,” Mr Cameron said.
There have been more than 1,300 licences issued and over 2,800 applications lodged.
“I am confident that there will be a smooth transition to FSRA, but it is important that applications should be lodged as soon as possible,” Mr Cameron said.
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