Best Interests Duty is an adviser’s obligations to prioritise the interests of their client when providing personal financial advice. To help assist advisers determine whether they have sufficiently done so, ASIC published the “Safe Harbour Checklist” in 2012.
At a glance, the safe harbour tests provide guidance to advisers in demonstrating evidence that they have:
- Acted in their client's best interest
- Given appropriate advice
- Warned the client of potential gaps in their advice
- Put the client first
Regulators provide guidance on assessing whether an adviser has met or demonstrated their best interest duty, including record-keeping and storing client files is maintained, which is a crucial step in the adviser providing that evidence.
If it can’t be demonstrated that all of the safe harbour steps have been taken, the adviser likely hasn’t met their Best Interests Duty, presenting a risk to their clients, their licensee and their representative status.
TIQK Best Interests Duty function takes the contents of a Statement of Advice and looks for evidence as to whether the adviser has (or hasn’t) sufficiently acted in the client's best interests. Where the adviser has failed to provide evidence, TIQK identifies a risk of not meeting the best interest duty and gives clear commentary on the risk detected.
TIQK can detect the manifestation of risks in many ways, some of which are:
- Certain strategic or product recommendations have a heavier burden of proof on the adviser to demonstrate that it is indeed beneficial (Or, at the very least, appropriate) for a client’s circumstances.
- Advisers who follow a “one-size-fits-all” method of providing advice are consistently deemed to be risking their capacity for meeting each individual client’s best interests
- Most simply, some advisers just overlook particular aspects of a client’s personal or financial details when providing advice. The absence of these considerations presents a high risk of that adviser proving their due diligence and ability to meet the safe harbour checklist.