Go to top of page

1.1 ASIC's role and responsibilities

ASIC is Australia’s integrated corporate, markets, financial services and consumer credit regulator. ASIC is established under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act).

Our vision

Our vision is for a fair, strong and efficient financial system for all Australians.

Our regulatory mission

To realise our vision, we will use all our regulatory tools to:

  • change behaviours to drive good consumer and investor outcomes
  • act against misconduct to maintain trust and integrity in the financial system
  • promote strong and innovative development of the financial system
  • help Australians to be in control of their financial lives.

Our registry mission

To realise our vision, we will provide efficient and accessible business registers that make it easier to do business.

Our legislative responsibilities

The ASIC Act states that ASIC has the function of monitoring and promoting market integrity and consumer protection in relation to the Australian financial system and the payments system.

It requires ASIC to strive to:

  • maintain, facilitate and improve the performance of the financial system and entities within it in the interests of commercial certainty, reducing business costs, and the efficiency and development of the economy
  • promote confident and informed participation by investors and consumers in the financial system
  • administer the law effectively and with minimal procedural requirements
  • receive, process and store – efficiently and quickly – the information given to us
  • make information about companies and other bodies available to the public as soon as practicable
  • take whatever action we can, and which is necessary, to enforce and give effect to the law.

We enforce the law and regulate companies, financial markets and financial services under the following key legislation:

  • ASIC Act
  • Business Names Registration Act 2011
  • Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act)
  • Insurance Contracts Act 1984
  • National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (National Credit Act).

We also administer parts of the following legislation:

  • Banking Act 1959
  • Life Insurance Act 1995
  • Medical Indemnity (Prudential Supervision and Product Standards) Act 2003
  • Retirement Savings Accounts Act 1997
  • Superannuation (Resolution of Complaints) Act 1993
  • Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act).

Our regulatory approach

In everything we do, we are guided by our vision of a fair, strong and efficient financial system for all Australians. To achieve our vision, we undertake a range of regulatory activities to:

  • change behaviours to drive good consumer and investor outcomes
  • act against misconduct to maintain trust and integrity in the financial system
  • promote strong and innovative development of the financial system
  • help Australians be in control of their financial lives.

Our regulatory toolkit includes supervision and surveillance, enforcement, financial capability work, industry engagement, guidance and input into law reform.

We use this toolkit across the industry sectors we regulate to identify and respond to threats and harms, and to achieve our vision.

For most of the issues in our remit, we use a combination of our regulatory tools to achieve outcomes for consumers and investors. This includes using new powers, such as the product intervention power, to address practices and products that may cause harm to consumers.

ASIC Corporate plan

ASIC’s Corporate Plan 2019–23 (Corporate Plan) explains how we use our strategic planning framework to achieve our vision and mission.

The framework guides the development of our priorities and actions. It is based on monitoring and analysis of our operating environment, identification of threats and behaviours that lead to harm (through our threats, harms and behaviours framework), and the prioritisation of those harms that need to be addressed.

Our strategic planning process supports how we plan our regulatory action.

Our Corporate Plan this year focused on addressing five key thematic drivers of harm to consumers and markets, through seven regulatory priorities.

The key drivers of harm were:

  • poor design and inappropriate sale of investment and protection products
  • inappropriate sale of credit products to consumers and limited access for small business
  • poor conduct in financial markets driven by lack of competition, structural challenges or conflicts of interest
  • poor governance (by boards, executives and investors), lack of professionalism, poor culture and lack of accountability
  • regulated entities are not deterred from misconduct by ASIC’s regulatory action.

The seven regulatory priorities identified in our Corporate Plan were:

1.High deterrence enforcement action

2.Prioritising the recommendations and referrals from the Royal Commission

3.Delivering as conduct regulator for superannuation

4.Addressing harms in insurance

5.Improving governance and accountability

6.Protecting vulnerable consumers

7.Addressing poor financial advice outcomes.

In Chapters 2 and 3, we set out our achievements against the qualitative and quantitative measures identified in our Corporate Plan.

Interim Corporate Plan

In June 2020, we published the ASIC Interim Corporate Plan 2020–21: Strategic priorities responding to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (Interim Corporate Plan), with five priorities to tackle the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These short-term priorities were:

1.Protecting consumers from harm at a time of heightened vulnerability

2.Maintaining financial system resilience and stability

3.Supporting Australian businesses to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

4.Continuing to identify, disrupt and deter the most harmful conduct, including through enforcement action

5.Continuing to build our organisational capacity in challenging times.

Key new activities that flowed from this plan included:

  • the establishment of dedicated cross-ASIC working groups on scams, false and misleading advertising, and unlicensed advice
  • expanding our markets supervision work to support the fair and orderly operation of markets and to ensure that investors are appropriately informed
  • providing relief in relation to capital raising, shareholder meetings, financial advice and the lodgement of financial reports
  • ensuring that there are measures in place to assist consumers who experience hardship, especially in relation to credit and insurance
  • facilitating access to effective advice when individuals are considering seeking early access to their superannuation.

Chapters 2 and 3 include more detail about the work we have done on the priorities identified in our Interim Corporate Plan.