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Adviser amendments to rebuild investor confidence, Dalziel says

Public anxiety in the wake of continuous financial product failures has pressured the government to amend the Financial Advisers Bill, Lianne Dalziel, Commerce Minister, confirmed in a statement yesterday.

Wednesday, April 23rd 2008, 9:46AM

by David Chaplin

"It's become clear to me that following the recent finance company collapses and the Blue Chip debacle the public wants greater regulation in place sooner rather than later," Dalziel said.

"...Where it [the bill] was once primarily about reviewing the regulations around the financial sector and encouraging industry participation, it is now on rebuilding investor confidence as quickly as possible."

Under the proposals released last week by the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, the co-regulatory model would be trashed while the bill's target audience would be considerably narrowed.

According to Dalziel, the changes, which would see the Securities Commission assume the role of single regulator of the advisory industry and a revised definition of who is a 'financial adviser', could speed up the introduction of the legislation by up to two years.

"[The proposals] will also enable greater consistency of regulation to be imposed across the many different groups offering financial advice than might have been possible with a range of APBs [approved professional bodies] setting the standards for their own members," she said in the statement.

While the financial adviser legislation has been almost four years in the making, with a comprehensive taskforce investigation of the industry and months of consultation, Dalziel said the latest concerns were only raised after the bill was referred to the select committee in February this year.

She said it was "never the intent" of the legislation to capture everyone who discussed financial matters.

"Subsequent feedback from the industry has enabled the definition to become clearer and more focused," Dalziel said.

She also said putting the Securities Commission in direct control of the financial advisory industry might only be a short-term measure to speed the implementation of the bill.

"[There is] the possibility of devolving frontline responsibility back to APBs at some future date," Dalziel said.

Interested parties have until May 16 to make submissions to the select committee on the proposals.

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