While mail servers across Australia groan under the weight spam
deluges, chain emails and petitions, ASIC can’t even manage to keep
their group email address list private.

ASIC’s bulk-email blunder

Sealed Section – January 23, 2004

ASIC, the corporate plod, yesterday emailed 500 people who work for
companies and financial planning operations that are hoping to get a
new licence to keep operating.

This is because, come 11 March, the new regime of Australian Financial
Services License is mandated to apply under the Financial Services
Reform Act.

Without the AFSL, you are out of business.

A plaintive cry for tolerance and understanding from ASIC was sent to
all the open applicants yesterday. Naturally all hopeful licensees will
respond as requested. It is to be hoped however that ASIC takes up the
little matter of security and confidentiality training with its own
people.

Apparently unaware of how to bulk email confidentially, ASIC has
helpfully provided the individual and company names of all those still
waiting for the big tick from the regulator before March 10.

And what an interesting list it is. Macquarie Bank, St George Bank,
Bell Potter, Fitch Ratings, Bank of Adelaide, Rothschilds, Wesfarmers,
Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, just to name but a few.

Perhaps on reflection ASIC could have tried the “bcc” option or the “undisclosed recipients” process?

Here is the full text of the email but we won’t be publishing the 500
email addresses. Afterall, we did the same thing with our then 287
subscribers in June 2000. Suffice to say, those on the ASIC email list
all know who everyone else is now.

“Subject: Your application for an Australian Financial Services Licence

Dear Applicant

We are either currently assessing your application for an Australian
financial services (AFS) licence, or are soon to start.  With over
500 full applications to assess in only a few weeks, it will not be
possible to complete all of these by the transition deadline of 10
March.

A key reason why some applications will not be assessed in time is
because the applicants are not providing timely or quality responses to
our queries.

We are seeking your cooperation to ensure that your application does not lose its place in our assessment queue.

Here is how you can help:

Reply immediately to any requests for further information.  If you
do not understand the request, please telephone the analyst straight
away.

When you provide us with the requested information, ensure that it
contains all the detail we have asked for.  We have had to ask
some applicants for the same information two or three times.  This
is
time-consuming for all parties.

Read Pro Forma 209 [PF209] while your licence application is being
assessed.  [PF209] contains our standard licence conditions. These
conditions are not negotiable as part of the licensing process.

If you wish to change licence conditions you must apply for relief, and
there is a separate process for doing this.  However, your chances
of receiving relief prior to the end of transition are very low as we
are also currently assessing large numbers of relief applications.

Do not ring and check where the analyst is up to in assessing your
licence application.  This wastes their time and may impact on
their ability to assess your application by the 10 March deadline.

Remember that analysts are assessing large numbers of applications at
any one time. They, are working long hours under immense pressure, so
please keep this in mind and be patient and polite in your dealings
with them. There is no time left for long discussions over relevant
authorisations or documentation.

If you follow these steps your application will retain its priority in our assessment queue.

Regards,

Pauline Vamos”

ASIC mea culpa and conflicting spin

Sealed Section – Australia Day, 2004

Not surprisingly, ASIC has done a mea culpa for publishing the email
addresses of 500 financial services licence applicants last Thursday.

However, more interesting is the fact that on the same day they were
putting out the email pleading for patience and indicating that there
was no way they could process all of the applications by the March 10
deadline, they were taking an ultra-hardline approach in the media.

Check out the media release saying there was no way they would extend
the deadline and everyone whose licence wasn’t issued by 10 March would
be out of business: 

04-013 ASIC warns ‘no licence, no business

So, what’s their real position?  What they’ve told the trembling applicants?  Or what they’ve spun to the media?

By the way, the mea culpa came on Friday morning and read as follows:

“Sent: Friday, 23 January 2004 9:46 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Your application for an Australian Financial Services Licence

Dear Applicant

I refer to my e-mail to you of 22nd January.  Unfortunately, there
was an error in its distribution, as it was intended to be emailed to
undisclosed recipients.  I apologise for any inconvenience caused
as a result of the list of recipients being shown.  Could you
please delete that e-mail and refrain from further distributing it.

Thank you and regards

Pauline Vamos”

Peter Fray

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