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'Clear feedback' code should not govern process

The code working group received clear feedback that the financial advice industry felt it should not try to mandate business process with its new code of conduct.

Wednesday, October 31st 2018, 6:00AM

In its March consultation, the group issued a detailed document, which included a number of potential points for the code to cover that shifted from a principles-based approach into governing advice process.

Among its considerations of advice ethics, for example, it sought views on whether Financial Advice Providers should be required to have their own code of ethics, ethics training, process for resolving ethical dilemmas and compliance functions.

But in the draft version of the code recently released, the group has moved away from that completely, instead covering those ethical considerations with the requirements to treat clients fairly, act with integrity and manage conflicts of interest.

Code working group chairman Angus Dale-Jones said the shift was driven by several reasons.

"Most importantly, now that financial adviser regulation is moving to a licensing regime, we have been careful not to duplicate process requirements (for example, keeping records) that may be imposed through the FMA licence," he said.

"The code must apply to the full range of advice situations and advice businesses. While the principles of good conduct should apply in all situations, the process and approach used to achieve that will often need to be different, because of the circumstances. So our focus has been on getting the principles right and providing process flexibility for different businesses."

He said the March consultation tested the appetite for process solutions but there was very clear feedback that people did not think it was appropriate.

"Financial services regulation is shifting towards having a far greater emphasis on conduct and attitudes, rather than just compliance with a set of rules. We've structured the draft code to reflect this shift, and to help advice businesses think about good conduct. Again, this means less focus on process and more focus on behaviour and intention.

"One of the reasons we've included commentary and examples throughout the code is to help readers understand and apply the principles. We would welcome consultation feedback on whether there is additional commentary material that the code could usefully provide."

Tags: Code Working Group

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Last updated: 15 November 2018 10:05am

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