The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced changes to its service charter standard for processing licence applications effective immediately. Under the updated standard, ASIC will decide 70% of licence applications within 150 days, and 90% of applications within 240 days. The previous timeframes were 60 days and 120 days respectively. ASIC has attributed this increase to an increasingly robust and risk-based approach to its assessment of licence applications.

In addition, a new fees-for-service regime will commence on 1 July 2018. It will apply to document compliance reviews, licence applications or variations, applications for registration, requests for changes to market integrity rules or procedures and applications for relief. There will be fee increases across the board for lodging ASIC forms, with the exception of certain registry activities which will now be exempt from payment of fees.

For many of the impacted ASIC forms, the large fee increases for lodgement are due to the fact that the current fees are arbitrary and not based on any form of cost recovery.

Notably, Australian Financial Services (AFS) Licence applications will be divided into eight different categories of fees ($1,488 – $7,357) depending on their complexity, determined by the client type, services and products selected. In contrast, a flat fee of $3,487 will be charged for relief applications, regardless of the nature of the application. This is a big shift away from a previously proposed $21,000 fee for novel relief applications – considered to be a significant barrier to bringing new products to market.

The Australian Government has published a consultation paper in preparation for the fee-for-service regime, with submissions due by 15 December 2017. If you are looking to apply for or vary an AFS or Australian Credit Licence, it may be best to do so now before the new cost regime comes into effect.