Is Australia becoming a less attractive destination for financial firms? According to data published this Monday by Australian financial regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), applicants for the Australian Financial Services (AFS) licenses for the 2018-2019 period dropped.
During the July 2018 to June 2019 period, the total number of AFS and credit license applications was 1,504. This is less than the 1,819 applications submitted in the previous year period by 17.3 percent.
From the applications submitted in the most recent period, 439 related to new AFS licenses, 589 pertaining to variations to existing AFS licenses, 243 related to new credit licenses, and 233 related to variations to existing credit licenses.
ASIC canceled 342 AFS licenses
During the period, ASIC canceled 342 AFS licenses and suspended 11 AFS licenses. As Finance Magnates reported, the Aussie regulator suspended the AFS license of Financial Options Pty Ltd, a Queensland-based financial services provider, earlier this year.
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In the twelve months, the watchdog approved 327 new AFS licenses and varied 495 AFS licenses, of which 467 were approved with additional regulatory outcomes.
This included the Australian authority approving the first retail foreign exchange (forex) broker in two years – Fortrade. The firm was already operating with several regulatory permits, including one from the UK FCA, Belarus, and, more recently, Australia.
The data released today is part of ASIC’s efforts to increase transparency. According to a statement released by the regulator today, the data also aims to provide guidance to prospective applicants.
Commenting on the data, Warren Day, Executive Director, Assessment & Intelligence said: “ASIC’s Licensing function serves an important gatekeeping role for ASIC, ensuring applicants seeking an Australian financial services (AFS) licence, credit licence or auditor-related professional registration meet minimum standards to offer regulated services. We help protect consumers by ensuring an appropriate level of scrutiny is applied to these applications.”
“We are keen to foster a better understanding of the nature of ASIC’s decision-making, what we consider when receiving an application and what is likely to increase the time required to consider an application.”