Thursday, August 04, 2011

Financial Services Council (FSC) Conference Day 1

BlueChip Communication's Paul Cheal, Bruce Madden and Carden Calder are attending the 2011 FSC Conference on the Gold Coast.

First up at the FSC were Chair Peter Maher, Minister Bill Shorten and new ASIC head honcho Greg Medcraft.

Minister Shorten offered to do "the standard" 20 minutes from Government to industry but instead (and really much more interesting) gave a free ranging talk that started with monks and ended in a jungle...covering opt-in, competition in super and the timing of draft FoFA legislation (September) in between.

Medcraft, just 82 days into the job, talked about how running ASIC is just like running a bank. Give accountability, hold accountable but don't micromanage. It sounds like an approach he'll apply both to the team at ASIC and those he's charged with regulating.

As a former local mayor - of both Box Hill and Woollahra, he knows a thing or two about making change. Having had a foot in each end of the social economic spectrum he's perhaps better placed than many to understand the needs of individuals and the perspective of executives.

Make the pie bigger, Medcraft says of the debates around financial advice.

Instead of one in five Australians seeking financial advice, it should perhaps be more like one in two.

Bickering about whether or not advice is needed isn't helpful, said our newest regulator.

What is needed? Confidence and improved access to advice. Fair and efficient markets.

The end goal, according to Medcraft, is confident, informed investors and financial consumers. Yes, education matters but so too does personal responsibility.

On a personal note he mentioned the frustration, as an individual investor with BoA Merrill Lynch, of placing his investments with them and not being able to have a single view online.

On how to get the biggest band for regulator buck Medcraft talked about aiming to proactively reach every single company ASIC regulates over a number of years - and reactively those where there is due cause for concern.

What will we see next from ASIC? The results of surveillance of each of the top ten businesses giving financial advice.

And on a personal note? New York rather than either Sydney or Melbourne. And favourite five for a dinner party? Nelson Mandela, Leonarda Da Vinci (at least that's how I heard it), Robin Williams. Barack Obama, Warren Buffett.

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