Financial services regulatory in Australia

Allens

Allens' financial services regulation team provides standout advice across the range of work in this space, covering advisory support for compliance, transactional, and structuring work through to the defence of regulatory investigations and enforcement. Among distinguishing features, the department draws on the firm's impressive superannuation, insurance, and wealth management practices, and enjoys close relationships with the financial regulators. Clients include all major Australian banks, superannuation funds, and life insurance companies. Michelle Levy (on the advisory side) and Kim Reid (on the contentious side) jointly head up the practice from Sydney and are supported by a large Australia-wide team. Active names include Peter Haig in Melbourne, a specialist in handling regulatory investigations, and Alexandra Mason, who is an expert in Ch 7 Corporations Act and ASIC Act offences, and Michael Mathieson, whose practice includes advising on licensing and disclosure obligations, fund establishments, product rationalisations (both in Sydney).

Practice head(s):

Michelle Levy; Kim Reid

Testimonials

‘Breadth of experience across the firm coupled with a thorough knowledge of our business.’

‘Michael Matheison – Strong knowledge of the subject matter, and robust and commercial advice. David Monaghan – Expert litigator.’

‘This team delivers high-quality work on every occasion. They are an industry-leading team of subject matter experts and always fantastic to deal with.’

‘Peter Haig and Chris Kerrigan are two of the more fantastic (and polite and genuinely lovely) lawyers I have worked with and are absolute stand-outs in this field. They are industry leaders.’

‘The breadth of the team is impressive. In addition to expertise in general financial services regulation, the team is leading in the financial crime regulatory space which is a hot topic of today.’

‘Peter Haig/ Chris Kerrigan – now leading lawyers in the financial crime regulatory space. Both have impressive knowledge and drive to build expertise and capability.’

Clayton Utz

Clayton Utz has a standout reputation in a wide range of financial services regulatory work, with a client base that includes the biggest financial institutions in Australia. The practice maintains longstanding relations with these clients and is often called on to handle their most complex and strategic work. The team is also often involved in significant regulatory projects, devising solutions for innovative services or products, in addition to general strategic and risk management work. On the contentious side, the department fields a number of specialists with deep experience navigating the regulatory landscape. The firm's FSR offering is split between the banking and finance, and litigation teams, and is headed up by banking specialist Alexander Schlosser. Key practitioners include Narelle Smythe, a veteran expert in this space, Matthew Daley, an expert in advising front-end financial services regulation. Ross McInnes advises financial services clients and major banks on the spectrum of regulatory matters and special counsel Vanessa Pallone is highly experienced in assisting with licensing, director duties, disclosure, and distribution issues.

Practice head(s):

Alexander Schlosser

Work highlights

  • Advising the Bank on the exercise of its statutory powers as the regulator of payment systems, including in relation to the making and variation of legally binding standards.
  • Advising ANZ on aspects of the sale of its Wealth arm to IOOF and Zurich Insurance Group.
  • Advising on the establishment of a A$550m listed investment trust, including advising in respect of all aspects of the establishment of Partners Group’s presence in Australia, including applying for an appropriate Australian financial services licence for Partners Group.

Herbert Smith Freehills

With a full-service offering across all aspects of financial services regulatory work, Herbert Smith Freehills stands out for its regular involvement in some of the largest and most complex matters for market-leading domestic and international clients. Among other distinguishing factors, the team enjoys close relationships with the regulators, is fully integrated into the firm's international network, and is at the forefront of new developments in the rapidly changing Australian regulatory environment. The team is jointly headed by highly regarded market-experts Michael Vrisakis, Andrew Eastwood, and Luke Hastings, as well as Fiona Smedley, Tony Coburn, and commercial disputes specialist Cameron Hanson. In February 2020, leading regulatory lawyer Charlotte Henry joined from the London office of Norton Rose Fulbright. In other team news, senior partner Ken Adams departed for ANZ bank as its new GC. An associate to watch is Tamanna Islam, whose practice includes advising on regulatory strategy in investigations. All named lawyers are Sydney-based.

Key clients

Citigroup Global Markets Australia Pty Limited

ASX Limited

Suncorp Group Limited

NAB

Westpac Banking Corporation

MLC Nominees Pty Ltd and NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited

AMP

TAL Life

Work highlights

  • Advising Citigroup on a landmark criminal cartel prosecution brought by the ACCC and the CDPP related to our client’s participation in an institutional placement by ANZ. The criminal charges involve allegations of criminal cartel conduct.
  • Advising National Australia Bank on the demerger of its wealth business, involving complex untangling of wealth and bank business units to strategically position the NAB Group to modernise and focus on its core banking business.
  • Acting for ASX in a Court proceeding commenced against it by a challenger bank. The challenger bank is seeking to set aside a decision of the market regulator to suspend the entities’ shares from quotation. The litigation raises untested legal questions about market regulators’ exercise of power.

King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons is distinguished by its market position and close connections to the government, corporate clients, and the various Australian financial regulators, allowing it to provide regulatory strategy advice, develop products and investigate financial crime. The team is also at the forefront of developments such as the implementation of BEAR, advising three of the four major banks on this; it is also active in the anti-money laundering space, especially for clients in need of compliance strategies. The practice is headed up jointly by Alexander Morris and Jim Boynton (both Sydney-based). Other key practitioners include the Melbourne-based Katherine Forrest, who has recently been involved in high-profile work in the enforceability of industry codes, and Kate Jackson-Maynes in Sydney, whose practice includes financial crime, credit licensing, and payment regulation. In team news, superannuation and life insurance specialist Sarah Yu joined the Sydney team from Herbert Smith Freehills in July 2019.

Practice head(s):

Alexander Morris; Jim Boynton

Work highlights

  • KWM successfully represented the two IOOF corporate respondents and two of its senior executives and advised the boards of the respective IOOF companies in action brought by APRA.
  • Advising tech-based payment services provider on Australian regulatory market.
  • Acting for Westpac in successfully defending civil penalty proceedings commenced by ASIC in the Federal Court of Australia in March 2017 (NSD293/2017).

Allen & Overy LLP

The financial services regulation team at Allen & Overy LLP is best known for its cross-border capabilities, and in particular for its US law expertise. The team covers the full range of work in this space, including enforcements and investigations, with additional specialisms in derivatives and payment system regulation. Clients of the practice include some of the leading Australian and international banks and financial institutions. Team head Jason Denisenko is an expert on non-contentious financial services regulatory work, including financial services licensing, marketing, and the distribution of financial products. Key lawyers on the litigation side of the team are white-collar crime specialist Jason Gray and Michael Shepherd, who regularly leads on high-profile trials and regulatory investigations.

Practice head(s):

Jason Denisenko

Other key lawyers:

Jason Gray; Michael Shepherd

Work highlights

  • Advising the US-based subsidiary of Chilean headquartered Moneda Asset Management (Moneda) on their application to rely on the class order relief under the Foreign Financial Service Provider regime.
  • Acting for the Australian branch of a US listed global investment bank on a high profile capital raise by a litigation funding client of the Investment Bank.
  • Acting for several senior executives of a subsidiary of this Australian-listed retail bank on an ASIC investigation into responsible lending practices.

Ashurst

Ashurst is regularly involved in complex and significant mandates for major clients in the financial services regulatory space. It has been highly active in the post-Royal Commission landscape, and in particular, has been instructed by a number of major Australian and international banks on the implementation of BEAR regulations. In addition to its strong advisory capability, the practice represents clients in major court proceedings, as well as investigation and enforcement activity. Sydney-based department head Jonathan Gordon focuses his practice on the regulation of financial services and financial markets, structured financial products, and corporate transactions. Philip Trinca in Melbourne, is an expert on retail, financial services, lending, regulatory compliance, FinTech, and dispute resolution. Other key lawyers are Silvana Wood, who brings many years of experience with the enforcement division of the UK FCA to her impressive roster of bank clients, and Corey McHattan, who also has a strong investment and trading bank client list.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Gordon

Key clients

ANZ

AxiCorp Financial Services

Judo Bank

Pershing Securities Australia Pty Ltd

Splitit Payments Ltd

Checkout Ltd (and Worldpay Ltd)

Westpac Banking Cooperation

UBS

J.P. Morgan

Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank

Forex Capital Trading Pty Limited

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Société Générale Securities Australia Pty Ltd

Morgan Stanley

QBE

Allianz

NAB

BGC Securities (Australia) Pty Ltd

AMP Limited

Citigroup

Deutsche Bank

Work highlights

  • Acting for ANZ on an ASIC investigation relating to ANZ’s charging of periodical payment fees and subsequent civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court.
  • Advising AxiCorp in relation to emerging regulatory issues for providers of contracts for difference and margin foreign exchange contacts.
  • Advising Judo Bank on its establishment as a bank in Australia – one of the first of the new challenger banks – targeting the SME sector.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Corrs Chambers Westgarth regularly advises on a broad scope of work in the financial services regulatory space, from supporting corporate clients in strategic compliance advice to defending investigations commenced by regulators. Melbourne-based Robert Clarke heads up the financial sponsors group, while Mark Wilks is head of litigation relating to regulatory defence and investigations. Head of the financial services regulatory team Michael Chaaya specialises in superannuation and pensions, general and life insurance, funds management, and regulatory banking; he has also been active in recent reforms to the financial services regulatory environment. Another noteworthy team member is Felicity Healy, a litigator with specialist experience in this area. Named partners are Sydney-based unless otherwise mentioned.

Practice head(s):

Robert Clarke; Mark Wilks

Key clients

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Macquarie Capital

eBay Australia and NZ Pty Ltd

National Australia Bank

Legal and General Investment Management

Bank of America, N.A.

Perpetual Superannuation Fund

Perpetual Limited

BGH Capital

Capture Allianz

Equity Trustees Limited

Invesco

Vanguard

Australia Post

Bank of China

The Northern Trust Company

Bank of Queensland

PayPal Australia Pty Ltd

Tradeweb

Bank Australia

Work highlights

  • Advising Gumtree (part of the eBay Group) on all regulatory aspects of its strategy to diversify its operations in the Australian market.
  • Advising Vanguard on the establishment of an investor-directed portfolio service to enhance Vanguard’s product distribution in Australia to retail clients through financial advisers.
  • Advising Neuberger Berman Australia Pty Ltd (Neuberger Berman) and Equity Trustees Limited (EQT) on the entitlement offer and public offer by NB Global Corporate Income Trust.

Gilbert + Tobin

Gilbert + Tobin combines a wide-ranging capability in contentious FSR work with a strong offering in strategic and advisory work in this space. The practice assists the big four banks and ASX-listed financial services institutions with investigations, risk audits, and the implementation of compliance strategies. Also notable is the team's close relationship with all the major Australian regulators. On the non-contentious side, the department is known in particular for its work in the payments, markets, platforms, and infrastructure spaces. The team is jointly led by disputes and investigations experts Richard Harris and Elizabeth Avery, and financial services regulation and funds management practitioner Peter Reeves (all Sydney based).

Other key lawyers:

Philippa Hofbrucker

Key clients

Australian Banking Association

Clearview Wealth Management

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Deloitte

Hong Kong Monetary Authority

Investa

Macquarie Group Limited

PayPal

TAL Life Insurance

Westpac Banking Corporation

XINJA

MoneyMe

Tide

Synthetix

Work highlights

  • Advising Westpac in relation to an ASIC investigation, an APRA investigation and a class action proceeding, which have arisen from proceedings commenced by AUSTRAC (Australia’s financial intelligence government agency) against Westpac in the Federal Court.
  • Advising Synthetix on the establishment of a new blockchain-based platform that enables users to digitise interests in a new form of product which provides synthetic exposure to real world assets.
  • Acting for Westpac on the ACCC’s 12-month inquiry into home loan prices in Australia.

Minter Ellison

Minter Ellison's financial services regulatory offering draws on expertise from various teams across the firm, including investment funds, superannuation, insurance, regulatory, competition, and risk. The practice's client list includes major Australian and global financial institutions. Another strength of the team is an integrated risk, regulatory, and transactional capability. The practice is equally active in handling investigations and enforcement actions brought by ASIC and other regulatory bodies in the financial services sector. James Beaton heads up the practice, and other key lawyers in this space include FSR specialist Richard Batten and Michael Lawson, an expert in the regulation and distribution of wealth management services and products. Named lawyers are Sydney-based.

Practice head(s):

James Beaton

Other key lawyers:

Richard Batten; Michael Lawson

Work highlights

  • Acting for NAB on its major review of their Small Business Finance Documentation, which accounts for approximately 40% of its total lending,
  • Advising many of Australia’s leading financial institutions on different aspects of the the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) and Life Insurance Framework / Trowbridge reforms.
  • Acting for Swedish-based bank Klarna to launch its ‘buy now pay later’ (BNPL) and payment product in the Australian market.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright acts for a global client base of international banks and financial institutions, as well as advising all the major Australian banks. The practice is known for its management of large-scale projects in the compliance space and has developed its risk advisory practice. Jon Ireland advises on the full range of corporate, commercial, and regulatory issues facing his financial services sector clients. He is co-head of the practice, alongside Claudine Salameh, who combines expertise in banking and insolvency litigation with a specialist FSR practice.

Practice head(s):

Jon Ireland; Claudine Salameh

Key clients

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Westpac

AMP

Macquarie

MLC Limited

QBE Insurance

HSBC

Mercer Investments

Westpac/BT Financial Group

ING Bank

Work highlights

  • Assisting BT Financial Group & IOOF with reviewing and remediating “fee for no service” issues.
  • Advising First State Super on changes to the structuring of certain superannuation and investment funds.
  • Advising Virtu Financial on its US$1bn acquisition of Investment Technology Group.

Baker McKenzie

The financial services and funds department at Baker McKenzie attracts clients ranging from fintech companies, multinational companies in the payments space, and significant international banks such as Credit Suisse and Wells Fargo. The team has developed an active practice in RADI authorisations, and regularly acts for the issuers of actively managed ETFs. Bill Fuggle heads up the team from the firm's Sydney office, with support from Lewis Apostolou in Melbourne. In team news, Stephen Watts retired from the partnership in January 2020.

Practice head(s):

Bill Fuggle

Other key lawyers:

Lewis Apostolou

Testimonials

‘The practice headed by Bill Fuggle is very well connected, always appear to have the finger on the pulse of what’s happening and what’s coming out and effective strategies to adopt in response.’

‘Bill Fuggle is a phenomenal wealth of knowledge, always happy to give a steer on technical issues. His team is engaged, and always a pleasure to deal with. We have the most contact with Alan Darwin, and he is a very effective operator.’

‘Bill Fuggle and his team are the leaders in terms of active ETFs and listed managed funds generally in the Australian market. He also provides extensive thought leadership on the market, and is on top of the many developments in this area.’

Key clients

in1bank

Wells Fargo

Credit Suisse

MUTB

AMP

Equity Trustees Limited

Volt Bank

Charles Schwab

Elanor Commercial Property Fund

Hamilton Lane Advisers

Work highlights

  • Advised Elanor Commercial Property Fund on its IPO and listing on the ASX.
  • Advising Hamilton Lane Advisers on the establishment, offer documentation and distribution requirements of the Hamilton Lane Global Private Equity Fund as a registered managed investment scheme; Perpetual Australia as Responsible Entity.
  • Advised the issuers for the quotation of the actively managed exchange-traded funds on the ASX AQUA Market and Chi-X Market.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP is distinguished by its work in the regulatory space for major insurance companies, and attracts both Australian and international clients on regulatory compliance issues and investigations. The team is equally active in assisting clients with internal investigations and self-reporting regimes as it is in handling enforcement proceedings brought by Australian regulatory authorities. The team is jointly headed by Avryl Lattin and Dean Carrigan, both have specialist experience advising on organisational resilience.

Practice head(s):

Avryl Lattin; Dean Carrigan

DLA Piper

The FSR practice at DLA Piper is known for its work in the general insurance space, but also for its advice to providers of other risk products, financial products, and payment systems. In particular, the department assists with licensing requirements and legislative compliance, especially for global electronic payment providers with an Australian market. Brisbane-based practice head Samantha O’Brien works with a number of major insurers and brokers, and covers the range of advisory work through to responding to investigations. Other key lawyers in Brisbane include Sophie Devitt, an insurance sector specialist, and Natalie Caton, whose practice focuses on corporate reputation and risk management.

Practice head(s):

Samantha O’Brien

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Devitt; Natalie Caton

Key clients

ARAG Australia

Suncorp Australia

Vspry Australia Pty Ltd

Reinventure Group

ANZ

Assembly Payments

International Insurance Company

Work highlights

  • Preparing the AFS licence application for ARAG and advising ARAG about AFS compliance for the local business/company.
  • Advising Suncorp on risk and exposure to its insurance business arising from a dispute between shareholders of Coverforce (Angelis and Pemba) regarding Coverforce’s investment in the Resilium insurance brokerage business that Suncorp divested through a management buy-out (MBO) to parties including Adrian Kitchin (Kitchin parties).
  • Acting for Vspry Australia Pty Ltd on the regulatory aspects of their corporate establishment and fundraising.

Gadens Lawyers

Kathy Merrick (Sydney) and Liam Hennessy (Brisbane) head the team at Gadens Lawyers which has a long-established presence in the financial regulatory space. It advises corporate clients in the context of investigations or corporate collapses and has established relationships with regulators (especially the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority). Its client roster extends to professional advisers, insolvency practitioners, directors, and individuals. It also assists clients with risk/compliance reviews and Hennessy also has considerable experience of the Banking Executive Accountability Regime (BEAR).

Practice head(s):

Kathy Merrick; Liam Hennessy

Testimonials

Key experience with and understanding of Regulators, especially Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). A practical approach to resolving legal and regulatory issues. Efficient resourcing.’

‘Good understanding of the regulatory framework and the surrounding legal principle. Ability to tackle legal and procedural issues in a practical and proportionate manner, including use where appropriate of external counsel (the Bar). Key individuals: Kathy Merrick (Partner) and Edward Martin (Partner). Clementine Woodhouse (Senior Associate) and Jade Matthews (Senior Associate).’

Key clients

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)

Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC)

Australia New Zealand Banking Group

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

National Australia Bank

Westpac Banking Corporation

Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFSA)

Credit Union Australia

Judo Bank

Work highlights

  • Acted for APRA representing its interests in the high-profile Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
  • Advised Credit Union Australia in respect of a complicated property investment referral structure, whereby the credit union referred its members to the property investment firm, and related regulatory considerations in terms of financial services licensing issues and risk management framework.
  • Acting for Volkswagen Financial Services in proceedings brought by ASIC for alleged breaches of responsible lending laws in respect of car finance products.

Johnson Winter & Slattery

Johnson Winter & Slattery is highlighted for combining 'robust knowledge and skill' with 'a personalised service'. Its expertise spans all aspects of financial services regulations and the regulatory regimes relevant to funds/superannuation funds. Austin Bell is active on the Financial Services Council and other bodies that consider regulatory reforms, in addition to guiding clients through regulatory regimes. Simon Haddy, who joined as a partner from Herbert Smith Freehills in 2019, advises corporates on the regulatory aspects of their transactions, and Tom Jarvis (in Melbourne) has acted for ASIC in high- profile cases.

Practice head(s):

Austin Bell

Other key lawyers:

Simon Haddy

Testimonials

Strong technical proficiency in all aspects of funds management law and regulation. Efficient service and very good turn around times. Costs are very reasonable when compared to peers.’

‘Robust knowledge and skill in the application for what is seemingly codified yet open to significant interpretation.’

‘Personalised service; focus on efficient use of time and resources to deliver a quality legal service without fuss.’

‘Collaborative, clear in their advice, focused on achieving a good outcome for our business efficiently.’

‘Austin Bell is very approachable and always prepared to help.’

‘Simon Haddy has superior skill at uncovering the underlying issues or risks whilst maintaining fabulous interpersonal skills that can be lacking across the profession.’

Key clients

Utilities Trust of Australia

Lighthouse Infrastructure

ASIC

Amundi Asset Management Australia Limited

Denning Asia

AMP Financial Planning Association Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising AMPfpa on AMP’s right to make changes to the buyer of last resort and related terms contained in the documents under which AMP appointed AMPfpa’s members as authorised representatives. The matter required advice on both, regulatory and contractual issues that arose in the context of intricate contractual arrangements.
  • Advised Lighthouse on all aspects of its structure, regulatory framework, and contractual arrangements, in relation to the establishment and promotion of a new wholesale fund to invest in disability housing, renewable energy and social infrastructure.
  • Advisers to ASIC in relation to Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (Banking Royal Commission).

K&L Gates

The asset management and investment funds practice at K&L Gates advises clients on a range of work in the FSR space, including regulatory compliance and regulatory reform. Experienced in dealing with the Australian regulators, the practice also regularly advises offshore clients on AFSL and APRA licensing requirements. Melbourne-based team head Jim Bulling has a practice that focuses on areas including financial product disclosure issues, payment systems, and financial product distribution.

Practice head(s):

Jim Bulling

Key clients

InfiniGold

EML Payments Limited

Human Financial

Medibank Private Limited

Guild Trustee Services

Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation

Sniip

1215 Capital

PRA Group

Work highlights

  • Developing a token structure for InfiniGold which provided a simple compliant solution to financial regulatory challenges.
  • Advising EML on expanding their Australian offering into new sectors by satisfying legal regulations and card scheme requirements.
  • Assisting FairVine Super with the provision of innovative services to fund members and the promotion of the fund through loyalty programs, social media, employer engagement and campaigns focused on women.

Piper Alderman

The regulatory compliance and investigations team at Piper Alderman advises on a number of areas in the financial services regulatory space, including commercial arrangements involving financial services providers, lending transactions, and securities enforcement. Andrea Beatty leads the team from Sydney; her specialisms include consumer credit, payment systems, privacy, licence applications, regulatory compliance projects, and audits. In team news, casino regulation and gaming law specialist Christopher Lyons  was promoted to partner in July 2019.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Beatty

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Lyons

Key clients

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

Australian Securities and Investment Commission

Cigno Pty Ltd

Maxi EFX Global

New South Wales Government

Work highlights

  • Advising New South Wales Treasury on the new casino duty and responsible gambling levy arrangements for The Star’s Sydney casino. The duty agreement is for a 21-year term.
  • Representing Cigno Pty Ltd in its Federal Court action against the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.
  • Developing an innovative chat-bot designed to guide enquiries made by the public to ASIC, specifically in relation to whether an Australian Financial Services Licence or Australian Credit Licence was required.