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There are a lot of factors to consider when assessing whether you need an AFSL. You must hold an AFSL to cover the provision of the financial services if you carry on a financial services business in the Australian jurisdiction. In determining whether you carry on a financial services business, you need to consider what services you are providing (and whether they are financial services) and whether the services are provided in relation to financial products.
The fact you will not be charging readers of your blog is indicative that you are not running a business. However, if you undertake commercial activities, such as carrying advertising on the site or selling readership lists, then it is more likely that you will be conducting a business.
You will generally fall within the Australian jurisdiction if you target Australian clients or if your business is based in Australia. Shares of any type, whether international or domestic, are financial products, so providing advice about shares (even where the advice is general) is a financial service. Advice about other types of investments may fall within the definition, but more information would be required.
You will need to carefully consider the proposed activities to establish whether they constitute a financial services business. You may also require legal advice in this regard.
If you do require an AFSL there are a range of obligations that will apply to you. These include the requirement to hold professional indemnity insurance if you provide financial services to retail clients. ASIC’s Regulatory Guide 126 has additional information about the insurance requirements.
Please contact our financial services team if you wish to discuss further.
Author: David Court