ASIC has defended employees’ skill and commitment after fielding a flood of criticism in a parliamentary performance review.
A Senate Committee has been assessing ASIC’s performance since June.
It received some 418 submissions from the public about ASIC’s powers, accountability, relationships with authorities, and management of complaints and whistleblowers until the consultation closed on 10 January.
Submitters included business owners, accountants and company directors who raised cases of regulatory failure and complained of high costs and a lack of “in-house commercial acumen and understanding of the complex business operating environment found in Australia”.
ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft acknowledged that ASIC had to be more transparent and open in communicating with the public, and improve its dealings with whistleblowers.
But Medcraft took issue with criticism of ASIC employees. Here’s what he told the Senate Committee today:
Chairman, one disappointing thing about some of the submissions was the inflammatory tone of criticisms made – particularly about ASIC staff.
ASIC has exceptional employees. They are men and women who work at ASIC for good reason. This is because they believe in the public interest.
They are skilled and committed to their work.
Considering the difficult job they do, they should receive appropriate respect.
Our people have diverse backgrounds – they have experience in law, accounting and financial services. Many have invaluable industry or consumer advocacy experience.
This means they understand how markets work and the issues facing investors, consumers and the wider industry.
ASIC employees also undertake ongoing internal training and have access to industry secondment programs, which further develop their skills.
All of these things make our people highly sought after by the private sector and internationally by other regulators.
Medcraft noted that many submitters had suffered financial losses, but “no financial regulator can prevent all losses from occurring”.
He said ASIC needed stronger licensing, investigation and enforcement powers, and Australian needed tougher penalties for wrongdoers to help curb criminal behaviour.
The Senate Committee is meeting today, tomorrow and Friday to discuss its findings so far.
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