It’s well known that Australian financial licencing laws are tough and AFSL licence holders can feel frustrated by the number of compliance hoops they need to jump through. But have you ever thought about how your Australian licence can provide a competitive edge in a global environment?
Your AFSL licence hasn’t been easy to achieve so naturally you need to keep it safe. That means maintaining a strict regime of inhouse compliance that can stand up to ASIC’s sometimes bewildering quality standards and requirements.
We all know that ASIC loves nothing more than to expose wrong doing, and while minor administrative errors may leave you with a stinging slap on the wrist, misuse of funds – accidental or intentional – can land company directors behind bars.
Rather than moan about annual audits and the impacts of Royal Commissions, derivative-selling businesses should embrace the sentiment of strictness and not just meet standards but exceed them.
Keeping ASIC happy is important, but there are other significant benefits derived from streamlining your operation and promoting transparency. Trustworthy businesses attract and retain loyal clients as well as talent, and quality people on the team can elevate a firm’s reputation even further.
Competing in a global market with ASIC’s blessing provides a competitive edge that those who don’t, simply can’t match.
Growth focussed financial services companies need effective, seamlessly integrated systems that deliver real time numbers reported in a meaningful manner that is both transparent for regulators, and helpful for your own decision making.
Custom-designed financial management systems that assimilate with carefully considered business processes including client management systems, platform software and reliable payment processors deliver seamless and transparent reporting that can automate much of the compliance process AND provide quality data necessary for effective financial management.
Smooth processes and clean books (even if they are compliance-driven) enhance a business’ reputation, and that’s worth leveraging both to generate more revenue but also for making the business more valuable to potential purchasers.
Management teams need to keep multiple balls in the air at all times, and this often requires external and specialised support. In addition to audits and remaining on top of AFSL compliance reporting, this support includes tax and business advice, and a proactive approach to fintech solutions.
One thing is for certain, technology underpins everything. The sooner growth organisations get on board the better because while there is a beginning, when it comes to technologies there is no end.
To maintain this commitment, management teams will need to build international teams, that comprise both employees and external specialised advisors, can bring a mix of superior skills that may not be available locally. I know, because I have direct experience working with international teams.
As an accountant, accounting systems-designer, tax and business advisor with considerable knowledge in fintech solutions, I work directly with a growing financial services organisation competing globally. This organisation has an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL), understands its significant commercial value, and wants to keep it safe.
As an international team member my role as an ‘external’ CFO (Chief Financial Officer) is facilitated by technology. I’m located in Sydney and thanks to technologies that include video conferencing that allow me to turn up at team meetings (wherever they are in the world); cloud accounting systems (that I usually have a hand in customising) offer 24/7 access to data and financial management reporting that’s necessary both for compliance and business development.
Importantly, as a ‘team’ member, I collaborate not just with the organisation’s financial management, but with the IT development team (also an international team based externally) to bring together my knowledge of accounting systems and the outcomes required with the much larger overarching IT function of a global entity.
For growth organisations in financial services taking the next step in streamlining your operations to accommodate global needs, this will include investigating fintech solutions. The benefits of building international teams capable of collaborating across borders will deliver outcomes now and forever. In the meantime, take care of your AFSL and as I suggested at the beginning of this article, don’t just implement compliance, embrace the global respect for our Australian standards, and in the process become a better, more profitable, more progressive, more successful organisation.
For advice about tax and business advice, financial management systems design, fintech solutions, and of course, for insights I can offer as an experienced and qualified ‘external’ CFO working in an international team environments, please contact me on email@example.com or call +61 2 9699 9971 to book an appointment in my Sydney office or on a video call.
Shane Kouros is a chartered accountant, financial management systems designer with special interest in financial technologies. He offers external CFO services that include business advisory services and tax advice that includes international tax expertise.