New ASIC chair James Shipton has promised to professionalise the finance industry, shifting the focus away from "numbers on a computer screen" to the retirement funds held by "real people in real life".
ASIC chair James Shipton, who commenced his leadership of the Australian corporate regulator last month, opened the ASIC Annual Forum 2018 in Sydney yesterday.
In his opening address, Mr Shipton said that every cent in the financial system is "other people's money".
"Finance is not 'just numbers on a computer screen' or just a means to receive a commission or a bonus," he said.
Nor is finance just about superannuation funds or wealth management businesses, Mr Shipton said.
"[These] institutions and companies ... that we all usually focus on are merely veils for the individual Australians that stand behind them: individual shareholders, investors, consumers and depositors," he said.
"Because we are dealing with other people's money, we must never forget that financial risks can, and often are, catastrophic to real people," Mr Shipton said.
Focusing on the superannuation sector, which he praised as one of Australia's great achievements, Mr Shipton said "we must be very careful about the standards and structures of that industry".
"When I was a young professional a mentor said: James, always follow the money. This is a very good example," he said.
"Because there is so much money – important money – for real people in a real life situation, which is retirement. It is an important focus for us," he said.
Mr Shipton has repeatedly declared that professionalism will be one of his main focuses during his tenure as chairman of ASIC.
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