ASIC has announced it is temporarily waiving the requirement for advisers to produce a Statement of Advice for their clients when providing advice around early access to superannuation.
The regulator has taken this step as part of a package of relief measures it says will assist industry in providing consumers with affordable and timely advice during the COVID-19 pandemic, and follows the Government’s announcement that super members can secure early access up to $20,000 from their super accounts across the 2019/20 and 2020/21 tax years.
To assist what it refers to as the provision of affordable advice on early access to super, ASIC has:
- Allowed advice providers not to give a statement of advice (SOA) to clients when providing advice about early access to superannuation
- Permitted registered tax agents to give advice to existing clients about early access to superannuation without needing to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence
- Issued a temporary no-action position for superannuation trustees to expand the scope of personal advice that may be provided by, or on behalf of, the superannuation trustee as ‘intra-fund advice’. (Intra-fund advice is provided free of charge to the recipient of the advice.)
The regulator notes its relief and no-action position is temporary and subject to conditions including:
- Clients must be provided with a Record of Advice (ROA), which meets certain content requirements. An ROA is a shorter, simpler document that sets out the advice that is being provided
- The advice fee, if any, is capped at $300
- The advice provider must establish that the client is entitled to the early release of their superannuation
ASIC has also extended the time-frame for providing what it refers to as time-critical SOAs, where advisers have been given up to 30 business days (instead of 5 business days) to give an SoA after providing time-critical advice.
In addition to these measures, ASIC has also provided temporary relief to allow the provision of an RoA to existing clients even though:
- The clients’ personal circumstances have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- The client sees an adviser from the same AFS licensee or practice, not their original adviser
ASIC says it will conduct surveillance activities to monitor the advice provided under this relief, and that it will consult with key stakeholders before revoking the instrument of relief and provide 30 days’ notice to the industry.
The regulator has released a reasonably detailed FAQ document to offer advisers additional clarification around these measures (click here).