In 2024, two new priorities have been added in relation to the superannuation industry, including a focus on member services failures and misconduct relating to the erosion of superannuation balances.
New priorities relating to insurance claims handling, compliance with financial hardship obligations, and the reportable situation regime have also been added.
In addition, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will be taking action against misconduct relating to gatekeepers such as auditors, registered liquidators, and financial services and credit licensees who do not comply with their legal obligations.
“Last year, we set ambitious enforcement priorities in part as a response to industry and consumer demand for more transparency on our key areas of focus. The enforcement priorities hold us, as a regulator, accountable, and importantly, they send a clear compliance and deterrence message to the entities we regulate,” ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court said at the ASIC Annual Forum in Melbourne.
“We are taking matters to court and pursuing higher penalties than ever before. In delivering against our priorities this year, we took action against some of Australia’s biggest corporations. And we are not deterred from taking challenging cases where legal outcomes are not guaranteed.”
The regulator added that the increasingly digitised and automated nature of financial markets also leads to increased technical and operational risks faced by market participants and market operators. In response to this, ASIC announced a new priority related to technology and operational resilience for market operators and participants in order to maintain market integrity.
“We must test the scope of the laws that Parliament has enacted to protect market integrity, consumers and investors, to ensure those laws have a wide protective application. Where the law is complex, new or open to interpretation, we are not doing our job if we do not fully explore its reach,” Ms Court said.
“Our goal is to create a culture of compliance across Australia’s financial system and the corporate sector more generally through decisive and high-profile enforcement action.”