ASIC tells the royal commission it’s under-resourced and can’t investigate everything it wants to

James Shipton Screenshot from webcast
  • ASIC chair James Shipton says the corporate regulator is under-resourced.
  • This means it is constrained in its investigations and other duties.
  • Shipton is appearing before the financial services royal commission.

Corporate regulator ASIC is under-resourced and constrained in its investigations into corporate wrongdoing, says its chair James Shipton.

He told the financial services royal commission that ASIC is constrained in every aspect of its regulatory work, including investigations, surveillance, supervision, and financial capability.

He agreed with Rowena Orr, senior counsel assisting the royal commission, that ASIC now has a wider regulatory remit than comparable market regulators overseas.

“In my own experience, I believe that ASIC is under resourced compared to some of our peers globally,” he told the hearing.

“It weighs very heavily on the regulatory choices that we have to make, because it means that we are restricted in our ability to take on matters or to pursue matters in a way that, perhaps, we would like to.”

The Federal Government has a Statement of Expectations document, setting out what it requires from ASIC.

The statement says that a key role for ASIC is to reduce the likelihood that consumers will suffer that losses as a result of misconduct by corporations and financial services licensees.

“This is done by ASIC enforcing and promoting expected standards of conduct using the range of regulatory tools as its disposal, including stakeholder engagement, surveillance, guidance, enforcement and policy advice,” the statement says.

ASIC has started embedding staff in banks as part of a program modifying behaviour to ensure consumers are put first.

The program, being called “close and continuous monitoring”, is being funded by part of special funding of $70.1 million approved by the Federal Government.