Learn about the regulatory landscape that governs the financial counselling profession.

ASIC Exemption

Financial counselling agencies that engage in credit or financial services activity as part of a financial counselling service are exempt from the requirement to hold a credit or financial services licence. 

A financial counselling service must always be free, confidential, independent and without conflict.

Exemption Conditions

The exemption is subject to further conditions including that:

  • Financial counsellors do not give advice to clients about purchasing investment products, such as shares or managed investments; and
  • No fees or charges are paid by clients for any aspect of the financial counselling service; and
  • The financial counselling agency is likewise unable to be remunerated (including by commission) directly or indirectly in relation to any action of the client; and
  • The financial counselling agency does not operate or participate in a financial services business beyond the scope of this relief, and takes all reasonable steps to ensure that none of its employees do so
  • In order to obtain this relief, individual financial counsellors must also be members of, or be eligible to be members of, a state financial counselling body. Membership requirements themselves set standards about conflicts of interest and professional requirements and conduct.
  • Financial counsellors must be appropriately educated

Membership of FCVic satisfies point five above, allowing your agency exemption from holding a credit or financial services licence.

Restriction on the use of the terms “financial counsellor” and “financial counselling”

The National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 restricts the use of the terms, “financial counsellor” and “financial counselling” and similar terms of similar meaning. The restriction means that only financial counselling agencies who meet the exemption from an Australian Credit Licence can use the restricted terms.

Financial counsellors provide free, confidential and independent services. The purpose of the restriction is to ensure that Credit Licence holders who are not financial counsellors do not mislead people by representing their services as financial counselling (when they are not).