23 Sep 2020

State of Play: Regulatory landscape for financial services institutions

Underpinning much of Australia's financial services market is strong regulation and a prescriptive and complex regime.


Hear from Narelle Smythe as she gives a download on the recent trends in the sector and describes the regulatory changes in the pipeline that will transform the industry, and allow more new entrants into Australia's financial services market.


To learn more about the key market trends and latest legal developments in Australia, visit our Australian Market: the state of play page.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.


The financial services in Australia his highly regulated and very prescriptive.  There are various licences and other authorisations that are required, some of which are overlapping.

We've got very prescriptive regulatory regimes that cover the lifecycle of financial services things like disclosure and other conduct.  There's also mandatory breach reporting as a feature of our financial services legislation.  We have a number of regulators in the area depending upon a particular area of focus, so for example regulators dealing with things like consumer protection, prudential regulation, privacy and AML CTF amongst others. 

In relation to recent trends in Australia I think the number 1 trend and the overarching trend is there's been an increase in investigations and enforcement.  ASIC are our primary consumer protection corporate markets regulator has adopted a 'why not litigate' approach.  That has led to increase investigations and increase enforcement in the courts.  Similarly our AML CTF regulator, Austrac, has also increased its enforcement activities leading to an increase in enforcement in the courts. 

Second trend is there has been an increase in the regulation.  There's been a number of regulatory changes that have been made, a number of them are very significant and a number of very significant regulatory changes in the pipeline, they've been stalled because of COVID but they will be introduced.  Some of those changes have significantly increased the penalties that apply to breaches of certain financial services legislation. 

Thirdly, there's been an increasing focus on governance, culture and accountability.  There have been a regime introduced, another regime to be introduced to make individuals within organisations more accountable. 

Fourthly, there's been a focus on competition including through Fintech and Regtech.  So amongst other things we've introduced and in the process of introducing an open banking regime which will give customers more control over their banking data and allow them to have that data sent to others.  There's also been efforts to provide alternative licensing pathways for some institutions to effectively streamline what can otherwise be a relatively onerous licensing process with the intention that that will allow new entrants, particularly in the Fintech space into the Australia financial services market.