BEST INTERESTS DUTY: SELF-MANAGED SUPER FUNDS (SMSFS) AND PLATFORMS

ASIC has released further guidance in respect of how advice providers can meet the best interests duty obligations for advice given to retail clients in respect of self-managed superannuation funds and platforms.  AISC's current views are found in the updated Regulatory Guide 148: Platforms that are managed investment schemes, and in ASIC Report 337: SMSF: Improving the quality of advice given to investors.

Platforms

Paragraph RG148.177 describes a range of matters that advice given about platforms should cover including:

In paragraph RG148.186, ASIC provides guidance on what it considers should be in a statement of advice recommending a particular platform and/or particular investments, including:

 

In addition to the above, paragraph RG148.187 details the matters that should be assessed by advisers when choosing to recommend one platform over another.  These matters include:

 

For more information, please see RG148.

Self-managed superannuation funds

ASIC conducted a review of files which were perceived as higher risk for SMSF members.  A majority of files reviewed had one or more of the following features:

 

In ASIC's investigation, they assessed one piece of advice as good advice as it had the following elements:

In April 2013, ASIC issued Report 337 SMSFs: Improving the quality of advice given to investors ("Report 337").  In Report 337, ASIC discusses some of their expectations in respect of advice on SMSFs. 

One of the issues from Report 337 was that investors were not told that:

 

As part of providing SMSF advice, ASIC recommends that advice providers discuss trustee obligations with the client and the duties and obligations that each trustee has to meet.  Advice providers should direct clients to the relevant sections of the ATO website on the obligations of trustees. 

In respect of whether to establish a SMSF, advisers should discuss and consider the following:

  1. suitability of SMSF structure;
  2. risks associated with SMSF structure;
  3. adequacy of insurance, or refer the client to an insurance specialist prior to establishing a SMSF;
  4. importance of an investment strategy and restrictions in relation to SMSF investments (e.g. sole purpose and restrictions in relation to acquiring assets from fund members or related parties); and
  5. consequences of switching from an APRA-regulated superannuation fund to a SMSF. 

In our next newsletter, we will discuss in further details the 5 items listed above.

Required Action

Licensees who provide financial advice to retail clients in respect of platforms and/or SMSFs should carefully consider RG148 and Report 337 to ensure that the advice provided to clients meets ASIC's standards.