Recent strategies and initiatives announced by Australia's corporate and prudential regulators and the Australian government's release in August 2019 of its Financial Services Royal Commission Implementation Roadmap provide a very clear signal—a new wave of regulatory proceedings is gathering against financial services institutions, their directors and other officers, and will hit Australian boardrooms before the year's end.
The government's Roadmap outlines an ambitious agenda over the next several years, including the introduction of significant legislative reform, to give effect to all 76 recommendations in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. The Roadmap also details a further 18 commitments on the part of the government which have been developed in response to the observations of Commissioner Hayne in the Final Report.
• Set clear objectives for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (“ASIC”) and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (“APRA”), with provision for the government to issue updated Statements of Expectations to continually refine the regulators’ mandates; • Increase the accountability of regulators by the establishment of a financial regulator oversight authority, which will independently assess the regulators’ effectiveness in delivering on their mandates; • Arm regulators with substantially expanded powers and greater funding; • Increase the accountability of financial firms, their senior executives and boards; and • Strengthen consumer protections and improve remediation and redress mechanisms. The financial services sector is the current focus, but it is likely that the regulatory mindset-shift will extend well beyond this sector in the months and years to come.