Im trying to gauge at what point a financial product comparison website would need an ASFL. In each of the below situations is one required?
1. Website lists factual information about competing products and allows the customer to click through to the product originator.
2. Website provides a quote facility that for each product originator. Quote/application required details can all be filled online and submitted back to the product originator with a upfront fee request. (or with a supplied AFSL for commission fee)
3. A Super comparison site allowing the customer to select a fund and roll their Super from their originating fund to the new fund.
Providing purely factual information on its own does not constitute financial product advice. However, as soon as you start presenting factual information in a manner that may be considered as intended to influence a person to make a decision about a financial product, you move into the area of general or personal advice. This requires an AFSL.
ASIC’s media release 12-304MR highlights some of ASIC’s concerns. Any comparison website also needs to ensure they are not being misleading and deceptive in their comparisons. Some operators have attracted unwanted interest from the regulator by only comparing a limited range of providers.
We assist a number of comparison websites with ongoing compliance. We also conduct assessments on whether comparison sites need an AFSL, and depending on the assessment, help them apply for AFSLs.
In our experience, the vast majority of comparison websites require an AFSL (or authorisation under an appropriate AFSL).