Australian regulator suspends AFS licence of Financial Options Pty Ltd

Maria Nikolova

The licence was suspended due to ASIC’s concerns that Financial Options was not meeting its obligations as an AFS licensee.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has suspended the Australian financial services (AFS) licence of Queensland-based financial services provider Financial Options Pty Ltd. The suspension will be in force until February 26, 2020, the Australian regulator said in an announcement published today.

The suspension is due to ASIC’s concerns that Financial Options was not meeting its obligations as an AFS licensee.

Financial Options did not file its accounts and audit report for the year to end-June 2018, failed to have a dispute resolution system in place, and did not maintain organisational competence or the resources required to provide the financial services covered by its licence. Upon receiving a notice of hearing from ASIC, Financial Options applied for membership with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) scheme, which took effect from May 31, 2019.

The suspension period will allow Financial Options to lodge its outstanding financial reports and do all things necessary to address ASIC’s outstanding concerns in relation to financial reporting obligations, organisational competence, human resources and compliance requirements.

The regulator warns that it will consider cancelling the licence if Financial Options cannot demonstrate that it is able to comply with the obligations at the end of the suspension period.

ASIC explains that the suspension of Financial Options’ AFS licence is part of its ongoing efforts to improve standards across the financial services industry. In March this year, for instance, ASIC said it had taken away the AFS licences of two financial services providers due to their failure to become members of the AFCA scheme. The businesses whose licenses got taken away are both NSW-based. Sydney Business Accounting’s licence cancellation took effect on February 14, 2019, and A G Calleia & Co’s licence was cancelled on February 15, 2019.

Financial Options may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.

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