Posted: 19 Dec. 2019 03 min. read

ASIC delivers new guidance on responsible lending

The corporate regulator’s latest update on responsible lending, RG209, is aimed at providing greater clarity on a number of key issues, including expense verification. But the challenge remains as to how lenders apply the guidance in practice.

ASIC has done what it said it would do and achieved a principled-based approach. With almost 40 detailed examples set out in the document, it stops short of being overly prescriptive. 

The regulator consulted widely and has given broad guidance on topics which have proved difficult in practice, including issues around requirements and objectives, verifications and buffers. 

While most lenders will be happy with further guidance around this key compliance obligation, putting the guidance in practice will be the next challenge, given aspects of lenders’ policy and process are likely to be impacted.

It is worth noting that the new guidance was almost completely re-written given the previous version of it was published in 2014.  The new version makes clear that the views set out, as previously signalled by ASIC Commissioner Sean Hughes, are ASIC’s guidance only, and do not mandate particular behaviour.  

Ultimately, it is up to lenders to decide how they will meet their responsible lending obligations.

The revised guide is a mature regulatory response and a step up from its predecessor in terms of detail. It provides case study examples and engagement with real industry issues.  

The depth of the engagement and consultation the regulator had with its constituents shows, with obligations explained in detail, including the ‘purpose’ underlying them.  

The key is the emphasis on how purpose fits in.  The renewed emphasis on this being principles-based legislation, highlights that the onus is on the licensee to determine whether its approach to a particular obligation meets what it is ‘intended to achieve and the consumer harm it is intended to address’. 

There are also a lot more examples that are more ’practically focused’ than previous versions. These include examples in relation to lenders dealing with ‘lumpy income’ and income from the gig economy.  Many submissions in the consultation process highlighted this as a key issue. We note that their inclusion reflects the ’passage of time’ given the term ‘gig economy’ was not so widely used in 2014 when the last version of the Regulatory Guide was published.  

However, given the greater level of granularity around expectations, one of the significant challenges lenders will face is implementing new policies and compliance processes to ensure practical compliance without disrupting operational components.

Meet our authors

Tim Noad

Tim Noad

Partner, Audit & Assurance

Tim is a Partner with Deloitte’s Audit & Assurance practice.Tim began his professional career with Deloitte as a graduate with a focus on our banking audit clients. He has diverse experience providing governance, regulatory and conduct advisory services within banking and financial advice sectors. Tim is an experienced advisor on matters related to conduct, including leading financial advice and retail banking remediation programs, as well as conduct risk framework and remediation exercises related to retail banking products.

Rita Gatt

Rita Gatt

Partner, Risk Advisory

Rita is the Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer for Risk Advisory services in Australia and works alongside global peers to provide enhanced risk propositions for our clients through data, AI, product development, innovation and alliance partnerships. She also leads Financial Industry Risk and Regulatory Services for Deloitte Australia, a team which has significant local and global depth of capability and experience in solving complex problems and creating value through intelligent risk solutions. Rita is an experienced strategic advisor, qualified statistician and transformational business leader specialising in risk data and technology solutions. She has 20 years’ experience solving complex problems and leading large initiatives across various industries including financial services, health services and the energy sector with some of Australia’s most well-known brands.