19 September 2018
Mr Peter Kell has announced his resignation as Deputy Chair of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), following seven years of service.
Since beginning his tenure in 2011, Mr Kell has been part of ASIC’s leadership team, first as a member and then from 2013 as Deputy Chair. His experience and understanding of corporate regulation has been appreciated by successive governments as well as members of ASIC.
Mr Kell’s time at ASIC followed a stint as Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. He has also been on the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board since its establishment, has made a significant contribution to improving financial literacy and ensured that the transition to the new Chair of ASIC was as smooth as possible, including serving as Acting Chair.
ASIC has six Commissioners, with new Commissioner Danielle Press starting this week. Mr Kell’s resignation will be effective from 6 December. Sean Hughes is due to commence as a Commissioner later this year.
The Coalition Government has undertaken significant reforms to ensure that ASIC has the resources and powers it needs to combat misconduct in the financial services industry and across all corporations for the protection of Australian consumers. This includes:
• injecting a further $70.1 million into ASIC to boost its enforcement capabilities and address other regulatory priorities, in addition to $121.3 million in additional funding in 2016 to bolster ASIC’s investigative and surveillance capabilities;
• the appointment of Daniel Crennan QC as a new Deputy Chair who has a key focus on enforcement action; and
• announcing the strengthening of criminal and civil penalties by increasing terms of imprisonment and fines, increasing the maximum civil penalties that can be imposed by courts and allowing wrongdoers to be stripped of profits illegally obtained, or losses avoided, from contraventions of the law.
These reforms support ASIC’s new Chair James Shipton’s approach to increase ASIC’s strategic direction on proactive enforcement and increase onsite supervisory approaches.
The Coalition Government thanks Mr Kell for his contribution to ASIC and wishes him well in his future endeavours.
CONSUMER GROUPS RESPOND TO RESIGNATION OF ASIC DEPUTY CHAIR
The Consumer Action Law Centre, Financial Counselling Australia and CHOICE have responded to the news of ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell’s resignation by calling for the Government to ensure that he is replaced by a person with a similar strong consumer protection background.
The Treasurer has today announced that Mr Kell has resigned with effect from 6 December 2018, prior to the end of his current appointment.
Quotes attributable to Gerard Brody, CEO of Consumer Action:
“In the years that Peter has been Deputy Chair, ASIC has used its investigative powers to examine sectors like mortgage broking, junk add-on insurance, credit card lending and debt management.”
“The evidence gathered through these investigations has given the financial services royal commission a flying start—and it is hard to imagine that the royal commission could have done so well at uncovering the problems in the sector without this evidence base gathered by ASIC.”
Quotes attributable to Fiona Guthrie, CEO of Financial Counselling Australia:
“Regulators like ASIC need a mix of consumer and industry knowledge among their commissioners, to ensure that they are able to do their job effectively.
“As Deputy Chair, Peter has always had a focus on issues affecting people on low incomes or in vulnerable circumstances. Peter led ASIC’s enforcement action against a number of payday lenders and consumer lease providers that saw them brought to account for not complying with responsible lending laws. Thousands of people also received compensation as a result. He was also integral in ASIC’s work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – something that may not have made headlines, but again has made an enormous difference.
“Peter was also a driver of ASIC’s work on financial literacy and capability, helping all of us increase our financial knowledge and skills, through tools such as the excellent MoneySmart website.”
Quotes attributable to Alan Kirkland, CEO of CHOICE:
“ASIC’s shadow shopping and file reviews in the financial advice industry have revealed widespread problems with conflicted remuneration, fees for no service, and conflicts of interest in advice firms owned by major banks.
“More recently, ASIC’s investigation of remuneration in the mortgage broker industry has forced changes to remuneration and built the case for further reform.
“It has been an established practice over a decade that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have a Deputy Chair with a strong consumer background.
“In light of the revelations at the royal commission, it is vital that this also be made a permanent feature of ASIC’s governance.”
The three organisations thank Mr Kell for his many years of work in consumer protection.
Consumer Action: Mick Bellairs, 0413 299 567
Financial Counselling Australia: Fiona Guthrie, 0402 426 835
CHOICE: Sarah Agar, 0430 172 669