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ACSA Industry Wrap - August 2020

Tuesday, 25 August 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kate Dent
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In September 2012 the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (CAMAC) presented a discussion paper titled “The AGM and Shareholder Engagement”. ACSA formally responded at the time with focus on procedural inefficiencies impacting institutional investors and custodians.


As a result of recent challenges related to COVID-19 disruptions (including virtual AGMs), technology improvements and new shareholder rights regulation, ACSA is reviewing the CAMAC discussion and opportunities for advocating positive change.


See ACSA Communique Proxy Voting for details.


In July 2020, ACSA reached out to members to gain insight into how member firms have adapted, systemic challenges, and views on what may lay ahead for the future of work in securities services and investment administration.


The survey indicated that on average 82 percent of staff moved to working from home, with some member firms close to 100 percent.  No respondents reported significant service delivery disruption, but all indicated that challenges arose with rapid deployment of technology access to support a distributed work force, along with fast-tracked adoption of new processes.


While the bulk of securities services and investment administration functions are highly automated, and therefore could be supported remotely, exception processes that still rely on physical documents and wet ink signatures created the greatest challenges. For example, mail room and vault access remain reliant on some level of central office access.

Awareness of the impact on people was reflected across all respondents with approaches put in place to bolster support. Availability of counselling, more frequent virtual interaction, and a focus on social dimensions (“ask anything” sessions) being some of the common approaches by member firms.


Opinions differed widely on whether workplaces will return to normal post-COVID. Around half of the respondents believe they will return back to the office – although most think this outcome will vary by job function. Nevertheless, the bulk of respondents believe that the disruptions have accelerated the trend to more flexible working conditions, a better appreciation of work / life balance and tangible benefits like reduced commute time.


Last year’s member events provided insight into how the rise of the machines, in particular AI, was shaping the future of work.   This year we will unpack how careers will develop in new distributed work places and pandemic disruption with guest speakers from TOM Executive Recruitment.


Mark your calendar for this ACSA member webinar at 12 noon on 23 September 2020.


As mentioned in the last update, all ACSA Working Groups and Taskforces are re-booting in an effort to ensure that priorities remain relevant to the new normal, and that key learnings from pandemic disruption are not lost.


Updates on current focus are posted on the website, but here is a round-up of current priorities for the Regulatory Working Group:


  • Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Amendment (Strategic Assets) Bill 2020 – currently open for consultation until 31 August with Treasury. The Bill amend the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 to prevent foreign persons or entities from acquiring more than 10 per cent or greater interest in Australian land, water or other assets that are of 'strategic economic importance' or 'strategic defensive importance' to Australia. The new legislation will also establish the Foreign Ownership Assessment Board and register of foreign owners. 
  • Portfolio holding disclosures for superannuation funds – this long deferred obligation remains an open issue with some potentially significant implementation challenges.  Next steps involve regulatory drafting (not yet available for industry consultation) 
  • RG97 Disclosure of fees and costs in PDSs and periodic statement - most recent release by ASIC (July 2020) of further minor amendments and clarification, including implementation dates. 
  • APRA Superannuation Data Transformation and APRA D2A replacement – engagement by ACSA via a principles approach to encourage consistency and efficiency. An update from APRA on the next stage of data requests from funds and pilot reporting is expected in early September 2020.
  • Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing – further clarification on application to custodians.


Recent submissions: 

  • APRA Pandemic Data Collection – submission 17 July 2020.  See Communique PDC
  • Takeover Panel Guidance Note 20 on Equity Derivatives - submission 31 July 2020 



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