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ASIC provides update on ‘fees for no service’

ASIC provides update on ‘fees for no service’

James Mitchell
— 1 minute read

The corporate regulator has provided an update of an enforceable undertaking on two major bank financial advice subsidiaries regarding its conduct around fees for no service.

In April, ASIC accepted an enforceable undertaking from Commonwealth Bank subsidiaries Commonwealth Financial Planning (CFPL) and BW Financial Advice (BWFA) over fees charged for advice that was not provided.

One undertaking required of CFPL was to appoint Ernst & Young (EY) to prepare an independent expert report that considered:

  1. whether CFPL had taken reasonable steps to ensure customers who should have received remediation in the 31-month period from 1 July 2015 to 31 January 2018 did receive that remediation. ASIC’s previous oversight of CFPL’s remediation had considered the period to 30 June 2015; and
  2. whether CFPL had put in place systems, processes and controls to meet its contractual obligations to customers who are paying ongoing service fees. In relation to the remediation of CFPL customers.

In relation to the remediation of CFPL customers, EY found that:

  1. for the periods 1 July 2015 to 31 May 2016 and 5 June 2017 to 31 January 2018, there was no evidence to suggest that CFPL had not taken reasonable steps to ensure that customers who should have received remediation did receive that remediation; and
  2. for the period 1 June 2016 to 4 June 2017 (Period 2), there had been a lower level of customer testing during this period and further work by CFPL was required. EY found that CFPL is in the process of taking reasonable steps to identify and remediate those customers who should have received remediation.

ASIC said EY will re-assess and report on Period 2 in January 2019 once CFPL has undertaken additional remediation work for that period.

As for EY’s findings in relation to whether CFPL had put in place adequate systems, processes and controls to meet its contractual obligations to customers who are paying ongoing service fees, EY found that there was nothing to suggest that those systems, processes and controls are not reasonably adequate to ensure that CFPL is able to discharge its obligations to its customers.

However, EY noted that CFPL could make further improvements to address:

  • a low level of control awareness within the business;
  • a high prevalence of manual processes and controls;
  • limitations on CFPL’s ability to analyse and report information for tracking and reporting of compliance centrally; and
  • the sustainability of its manually intensive processes.

On this front, ASIC said EY will assess and report on whether CFPL has addressed EY’s findings, through the implementation of systems and process improvements, in January 2019.

Further, ASIC noted CFPL has requested an extension of time for EY to produce its final report and for CFPL to provide its senior executive attestation as required under the EU, to 31 January 2019.

It said this extension of time will allow CFPL to undertake the additional work required in relation to the time period from 1 June 2016 to 4 June 2017 and to implement the recommendations made by EY to further improve CFPL’s systems, processes and controls.

ASIC also said CFPL is required to submit a detailed plan setting out the specific actions that it will undertake to ensure that it addresses EY’s findings and recommendations.

In addition, it said the EU will be amended to reflect this additional plan, the timing of the final report and senior executive attestation.

 

ASIC provides update on ‘fees for no service’
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