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What does ASIC regulate?

Overview of ASIC and its role

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing and regulating Australia's financial services industry. Created under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001, ASIC's primary responsibility is to enforce laws and regulations that promote fair and transparent markets, protect consumers, and maintain the integrity of the financial system. ASIC regulates a wide range of activities and entities in the financial services sector, including banks, credit unions, insurance companies, finance brokers, forex brokers, and futures market operators. The organization aims to ensure that financial institutions and service providers operate in a manner that is consistent with their legal obligations and that financial products are properly marketed, sold, and provided to consumers. ASIC's role also involves promoting informed participation by retail investors in the financial markets, providing consumer enlightenment and education, and addressing criticism and concerns raised by Australian consumers. As a powerful regulatory body, ASIC has the authority to take enforcement actions, such as imposing fines and sanctions, to maintain compliance and accountability within the financial services industry. By upholding transparent and reliable financial markets, ASIC plays a crucial role in building consumer trust and protecting the interests of Australian consumers.

The regulatory environment

The regulatory environment in Australia is overseen by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity and stability of the financial markets. ASIC is the key regulatory authority responsible for enforcing laws and regulations governing the Australian financial services industry.

In addition to ASIC, there are other regulatory authorities and organizations that contribute to the regulatory framework. One of these is the Council of Financial Regulators (CFR), which comprises representatives from ASIC, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), and the Treasury. The CFR's primary function is to promote the stability of the financial system by fostering collaboration and coordination among its member organizations.

ASIC's regulatory responsibilities include supervising and regulating financial institutions, enforcing laws related to securities and investments, and ensuring that financial products and services meet the necessary standards. It also plays a crucial role in protecting the interests of consumers and retail investors, promoting market transparency, and enforcing regulatory compliance through necessary enforcement actions.

Overall, the regulatory environment in Australia, led by ASIC and supported by other regulatory authorities, aims to create a robust and transparent financial system that promotes fair and informed participation while safeguarding the interests of both consumers and market operators. By fulfilling its regulatory responsibilities, ASIC contributes to maintaining the integrity and stability of the Australian financial system.

Regulated industries

Regulated industries are sectors of the economy that are subject to government oversight and control in order to protect the public interest, ensure fair competition, and maintain market stability. Various industries can fall under the purview of regulation, including finance, telecommunications, energy, healthcare, and transportation. Regulatory bodies such as ASIC play a crucial role in supervising and enforcing laws within these industries to promote transparency, protect consumers, and foster a level playing field for businesses. This article will provide an overview of some of the key industries that ASIC regulates and highlight the importance of regulatory oversight in ensuring the integrity and stability of these sectors.


ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) plays a crucial role in regulating the banking industry in Australia. As the primary regulatory authority for the financial services industry, ASIC has several responsibilities when it comes to monitoring and supervising banks.

One of ASIC's key functions is to enforce regulatory requirements, ensuring that banks operate efficiently, honestly, and with integrity. This involves undertaking enforcement actions against any breaches of legislation, such as the Corporations Act and the National Consumer Credit Protection Act, thereby promoting market integrity and protecting the interests of financial consumers.

ASIC also has the responsibility of overseeing the licensing and registration of financial services businesses, including banks. This involves establishing and maintaining a regulatory framework that facilitates transparent and fair markets. By setting and enforcing standards for the provision of financial products and services, ASIC ensures that Australian consumers are well-informed and protected.

In addition to its monitoring and supervisory role, ASIC also has the power to take enforcement action against banks that fail to meet their legal obligations. This includes taking court actions against banks for misconduct, conducting investigations, and imposing penalties for any non-compliance.

Credit unions

Credit unions play an important role in the regulatory environment, and ASIC is responsible for their licensing and regulation. ASIC ensures that credit unions operate efficiently, honestly, and fairly, while also protecting the interests of consumers.

To ensure that credit unions meet regulatory standards, ASIC requires them to be licensed. This process involves an assessment of the credit union's financial standing, governance structure, and adherence to legal obligations. Once licensed, credit unions are subject to ongoing supervision and monitoring by ASIC to ensure compliance with regulations.

Under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009, credit unions have various responsibilities related to consumer credit activities. This includes providing credit contracts that are clear and easily understandable, providing accurate and timely information to consumers, and ensuring that advertising and promotional materials are not misleading or deceptive.

Credit unions are also responsible for assessing the ability of consumers to repay loans, assisting consumers facing financial difficulties, and providing adequate dispute resolution mechanisms. ASIC oversees credit unions' compliance with these obligations and takes enforcement actions if necessary to protect consumers.

By licensing and regulating credit unions, ASIC promotes transparency, integrity, and consumer trust in the financial services industry, enhancing the overall stability and confidence in the credit union sector.

Financial services industry

The financial services industry encompasses a wide range of businesses that provide various financial products and services. These businesses include banks, credit unions, insurance companies, investment firms, wealth management companies, and mortgage brokers, among others. They play a crucial role in the economy by facilitating transactions, managing risk, providing capital, and safeguarding assets.

Within the financial services industry, there is a vast array of products and services available to consumers. This includes traditional banking services like savings accounts, checking accounts, and loans, as well as more complex offerings such as investment products, insurance policies, and retirement planning services. Financial institutions also provide advisory services, brokerage services, and facilitate trading in assets such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign currencies.

To ensure fair and efficient operations within the financial services industry, regulatory bodies like ASIC require businesses to be licensed. This licensing process involves rigorous assessments of a company's financial stability, risk management practices, internal controls, governance structure, and adherence to legal obligations. Once licensed, financial services businesses are subject to ongoing monitoring and supervision by ASIC to ensure compliance with regulations and to maintain market integrity.

Through licensing and monitoring procedures, ASIC aims to protect consumers, promote transparency in the market, encourage informed participation of retail investors, and foster confidence in the financial system. By enforcing regulatory responsibilities, ASIC helps to safeguard the interests of financial consumers and maintain the overall stability and trust in the financial services industry.

Market integrity providers

Market integrity is a crucial aspect of the financial services industry, and ASIC plays a vital role in ensuring fair, orderly, and transparent markets. As the regulatory body for Australia's financial markets, ASIC is responsible for supervising market integrity providers. These providers include licensed equity markets, derivatives markets, and futures markets.

ASIC's supervision of trading on domestic licensed equity markets involves monitoring and enforcing compliance with legal obligations. Market integrity providers are required to have robust systems and controls in place to prevent market manipulation, insider trading, and other fraudulent activities. ASIC ensures that these providers have adequate surveillance mechanisms to detect any suspicious trading patterns or misconduct.

Similarly, ASIC closely monitors derivatives markets to ensure that market participants comply with regulations designed to protect retail investors and maintain market integrity. These regulations include requirements for clear and accurate disclosure of information, fair pricing, and risk management practices.

In the case of futures markets, ASIC's regulatory responsibilities include overseeing the operation and conduct of market operators. This oversight ensures that market operators maintain fair, orderly, and transparent markets by enforcing trading rules and monitoring the activities of market participants.

Compliance with legal obligations is of utmost importance for market integrity providers. ASIC enforces compliance through regular audits, investigations, and enforcement actions. Failure to comply can result in regulatory sanctions, including fines, license suspension, or even criminal charges.

Futures contract markets

Futures contract markets play a vital role within the ASIC jurisdiction, as they provide a platform for traders to buy or sell contracts at a predetermined price for delivery at a future date. ASIC's primary responsibility is to supervise and regulate these markets to ensure fair and transparent trading practices while upholding legal obligations.

ASIC closely monitors futures contract markets to ensure compliance with regulations and maintain market integrity. They enforce trading rules, monitor market participants, and oversee the operation and conduct of market operators. This involves ensuring that market operators maintain fair, orderly, and transparent markets by enforcing trading rules and preventing any fraudulent activities.

To ensure compliance with legal obligations, market participants in futures contract markets are required to maintain robust systems and controls. They must adhere to regulations that include clear and accurate disclosure of information, fair pricing, and effective risk management practices. ASIC conducts regular audits and investigations to ensure these obligations are met, and they take enforcement actions against those who fail to comply.

One specific exemption within the futures contract market is ASX Clear (Futures) Pty Limited's exemption from DCO (Derivatives Clearing Organization) registration. This exemption allows ASX Clear (Futures) Pty Limited to provide clearing and settlement services for certain derivatives without being a registered DCO. ASIC oversees and regulations this exemption to ensure that it does not compromise market integrity or pose any risks to market participants.

Financial market infrastructures

Financial market infrastructures (FMIs) play a crucial role in the smooth functioning of financial markets in Australia. These infrastructures are responsible for facilitating the clearing, settlement, and recording of financial transactions. They provide the necessary infrastructure and services that enable the safe and efficient transfer of funds, securities, and other financial assets.

The regulation and oversight of FMIs are of paramount importance to ensure the stability and integrity of the financial system. In Australia, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) are the primary regulatory authorities responsible for overseeing FMIs. They enforce stringent regulations and monitor the operations of FMIs to safeguard against systemic risks and promote investor confidence.

The implementation of the CPMI-IOSCO Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures is a key aspect of the regulatory framework in Australia. These principles provide guidance on risk management, governance, transparency, and other critical aspects of FMIs. Australian regulators have incorporated these principles into their regulatory frameworks to ensure that FMIs operate in a safe, efficient, and transparent manner.

There are different types of FMIs, including payment systems, central securities depositories, central counterparties, and trade repositories. Each type of infrastructure serves a specific function to facilitate the smooth functioning of financial markets. Payment systems enable the transfer of funds, while central securities depositories provide a secure platform for the settlement of securities transactions. Central counterparties act as intermediaries in derivatives transactions, ensuring counterparty risk mitigation. Trade repositories collect and store transaction data to enhance transparency and regulatory oversight.

In the European Union, the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) has had a significant impact on the regulation of FMIs. MiFID introduced a harmonized regulatory framework for financial markets and imposed stricter regulations on FMIs, including trading venues and clearinghouses. It aims to enhance transparency, promote competition, and protect investors' interests within the EU.

Retail investors and informed participation

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) plays a crucial role in promoting the informed participation of retail investors in the financial markets. ASIC is committed to ensuring that retail investors have access to the necessary information and resources to make informed investment decisions.

To achieve this, ASIC implements various initiatives that empower retail investors and protect them from fraudulent or exploitative practices. Firstly, ASIC focuses on improving the accessibility of information. It requires companies and financial services providers to disclose accurate and timely information to retail investors to enable them to understand the risks and benefits associated with their investments. ASIC also operates the MoneySmart website, which provides free and independent guidance on investment options and strategies.

Additionally, ASIC undertakes significant efforts to educate and raise awareness among retail investors. It conducts seminars, publishes investor guides, and offers online educational resources to help investors understand complex financial products and make informed choices. ASIC also actively collaborates with consumer advocacy groups and industry stakeholders to ensure that the interests of retail investors are safeguarded.

Furthermore, ASIC takes enforcement actions against individuals and organizations engaged in fraudulent or misleading practices that harm retail investors. It investigates and takes legal action to bring such wrongdoers to justice, with the aim of promoting market integrity and protecting retail investors' rights.

Types of regulation

When it comes to financial markets and the financial services industry, regulation plays a crucial role in ensuring transparency, fairness, and protection for consumers. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing and enforcing regulations in Australia. ASIC's primary responsibility is to regulate and enforce laws relating to financial products, financial services businesses, and market operators. In this article, we will explore the different types of regulations that ASIC oversees and how they contribute to the overall integrity and stability of the Australian market. From consumer protection and market supervision to enforcement actions and education initiatives, ASIC's regulatory responsibilities are multifaceted and aimed at creating an environment where all participants can engage in the financial market with confidence and trust.

Consumer credit regulation

Consumer credit regulation in Australia falls under the jurisdiction of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). ASIC is the regulatory authority responsible for licensing and overseeing individuals and businesses involved in consumer credit activities. This includes banks, credit unions, finance companies, and mortgage brokers.

ASIC's primary responsibility is to enforce compliance with the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (NCCP Act), which aims to protect consumers and promote responsible lending practices. The NCCP Act sets out various legal obligations for entities engaging in consumer credit activities, including licensing requirements, responsible lending obligations, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

To ensure compliance, ASIC conducts regular supervision and inspections of licensed entities. It also monitors the activities of unlicensed businesses and takes enforcement actions against those found to be in breach of the law.

Recent enforcement actions taken by ASIC in the consumer credit space have included imposing penalties and sanctions on entities for breaches of the NCCP Act. These actions serve as a deterrent and aim to protect consumers from unfair practices and fraudulent behavior.

Overall, ASIC's regulatory responsibilities in consumer credit contribute to creating a transparent and fair financial services industry, promoting informed consumer participation, and building consumer trust.

Financial service businesses and institutions)

ASIC regulates a wide range of financial service businesses and institutions to ensure the integrity and transparency of the Australian financial markets. Some of the major types of institutions and businesses that ASIC oversees include:

  1. Superannuation Funds: ASIC regulates superannuation funds, which are retirement savings vehicles. These funds manage and invest contributions made by individuals and employers to provide income in retirement. Major players in this sector include AustralianSuper, REST Super, and Hostplus.
  2. Managed Funds: ASIC also oversees managed funds, which pool money from multiple investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of assets. These funds can invest in various asset classes such as equities, bonds, and property. Some prominent managed fund providers are Vanguard Australia, BlackRock, and Macquarie Investment Management.
  3. Shares and Company Securities: ASIC has regulatory oversight over companies issuing shares and other securities to the public. This includes ensuring compliance with disclosure requirements, market manipulation prevention, and shareholder protection. Major listed companies include Commonwealth Bank of Australia, BHP Group, and CSL Limited.
  4. Derivatives: ASIC regulates the trading and conduct of derivatives products in Australia. Derivatives are financial instruments that derive their value from an underlying asset, such as futures contracts, options, and swaps. Some leading derivatives exchanges include ASX Limited and Chi-X Australia.
  5. Insurance: ASIC also governs the insurance industry and monitors insurance providers to ensure they meet their obligations towards policyholders. This includes overseeing general insurance companies and providing guidance on policy terms and customer protections. Prominent insurers in Australia include IAG, QBE Insurance Group, and Suncorp Group.

By regulating these financial service businesses and institutions, ASIC plays a crucial role in safeguarding the interests of Australian consumers and ensuring the fair and transparent operation of the financial services industry.

Legal obligations and requirements

ASIC has a crucial regulatory role in the Australian financial services industry. It enforces legal obligations and requirements on various entities to maintain market integrity and protect the interests of financial consumers.

One area of focus for ASIC is the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), which operates as a licensed market. ASX is obligated to manage conflicts of interest, ensure compliance with listing rules, and adhere to other operating rules. This helps promote transparent and efficient markets while safeguarding investor confidence.

Additionally, ASIC works closely with the Assistant Treasurer in licensing clearing and settlement facilities. The Assistant Treasurer holds primary responsibility for this, with ASIC providing regulatory advice. Effective oversight of these facilities is critical for financial stability and the smooth functioning of payment and settlement systems.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) also has a role in assessing compliance with Financial Stability Standards. These standards aim to mitigate systemic risks and enhance the resilience of financial market infrastructures. The RBA collaborates with international organizations like the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) to set global standards and guidelines.

Financial products and services

ASIC regulates a wide range of financial products and services in Australia. This includes superannuation funds, managed funds, shares and company securities, derivatives, and insurance.

ASIC plays a crucial role in licensing and monitoring businesses that operate in these sectors. It grants licenses to businesses, ensuring that they have met specific criteria and requirements to conduct their financial services activities. Through ongoing monitoring and supervision, ASIC ensures that these businesses are operating efficiently, honestly, and fairly.

When it comes to superannuation funds, ASIC ensures that trustees meet their obligations to act in the best interests of members and provide appropriate benefits. With managed funds, ASIC oversees fund managers and ensures they act in the best interests of investors and provide accurate and timely information.

ASIC also supervises businesses that deal in shares and company securities, such as stockbrokers and financial advisers. It ensures that these businesses operate with integrity and provide advice that is suitable for their clients' circumstances.

In the derivatives market, ASIC ensures that businesses have appropriate risk management systems in place and are transparent in their operations. When it comes to insurance, ASIC monitors insurers to ensure they comply with their legal obligations and provide fair terms and conditions to policyholders.