First off, the government supports APRA's moves to strengthen the banks’ position by building up their reserves to protect against future financial crises.
These, and other proposed changes to the financial system, should make it easier for smaller institutions to compete with bigger lenders – with the bottom line being more funding opportunities for small business and hopefully more product innovation to make doing business easier.
Financial adviser professional standards
New laws to raise professional standards of financial advisers will come into effect by mid-2016, with a further review in 2019 to see if more changes are needed – something that’ll be welcomed by consumers and the financial planning industry alike.
The industry has been screaming out for more regulation to protect consumers and strengthen the quality of advice provided. There’s also a sense that all advisers have been tarred by the actions of a small number of rotten apples.
Owning a business that provides quality financial advice, I know all too well the frustrations of the ethical and expert advisers that are committed to helping liberate the lifestyles of ordinary Australians by giving them a secure path to financial independence. It’s a travesty that many households will miss out on the benefits of quality advice because they’ve been scared off by the scandals.
The report also recommends relaxing the product disclosure requirements, enabling providers to reduce the complexity of information provided and instead talk to consumers in plain English (meaning they’re more likely to read - and therefore understand – what is provided). A huge win for common sense – and for all concerned.
In great news for consumers (and of course the many business owners who rely heavily on plastic for cash flow), the government will phase in a ban on excessive card surcharging, and monitor developments to decide if further action is needed.
The government will consult with the community on crowd-sourced debt funding This move acknowledges crowdfunding as a legitimate source of funding for small business owners – particularly start-ups. As crowdfunding can be easier to access than a traditional loan, the changes will hopefully ensure businesses have a broader range of secure funding options to suit their needs.
The recommendations aimed at improving the convenience and security of online financial transactions could bring significant benefits to business owners (directly or indirectly). There’s also the potential to reduce compliance requirements, and less red tape is always a good thing.
The only recommendation not adopted by the government relates to super fund borrowing. Self-managed super funds will retain the ability to borrow funds to invest in assets such as property.
The response to the Murray recommendations from experts and the Government alike has been very positive overall. The adoption of most recommendations should give small businesses even greater options in terms of sourcing funding, operating more efficiently, and providing products and services that meet the ever-evolving needs of today’s consumers – both now and into the future.