ASIC – a toothless tiger of financial industry

Last night I was looking for some light reading, so I’ve turned my attention to the Money Management website. On it, I found an article telling us that ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) purposefully does NOT take action against misleading advertising by Industry Super Funds.

Former Faceless Man, now in a running to become our next Prime Minister

Union cronie, wants to be our next Prime Minister

For anyone who just came back from extended travels throughout the Phoenix Cluster galaxy and might not be up to speed with things here on Earth, Industry Super Funds are effectively owned by the Unions and for all intents and purposes are untouchable.

According to ASIC’s own website, they “contribute to Australia’s economic reputation and wellbeing by ensuring that Australia’s financial markets are fair and transparent, supported by confident and informed investors and consumers.” Again, in their own words, one of their strategic priorities is “Ensuring fair, orderly and transparent markets”. They should add “unless it involves Trade Unions, in which case we tuck our tail between our legs and play dead”.Don’t get me wrong, ASIC isn’t just sitting idly on its hands. It jumps in and investigates and sets rulings and cancels licenses and banishes businesses….. Only last year they banned a finance broker from Lidcombe, NSW. They banned Commonwealth financial planning adviser for not providing a paperwork within specific timeframe. They banned adviser of the Magnitude Group. They banned insurance broker of Leedam Pty Ltd. The list goes on and on and on. Mostly ASIC came down really hard on small to medium size businesses.

real people are the victims

-thejournal.ie

Don’t get me wrong, ASIC isn’t just sitting idly on its hands. It jumps in and investigates and sets rulings and cancels licenses and banishes businesses….. Only last year they banned a finance broker from Lidcombe, NSW. They banned Commonwealth financial planning adviser for not providing a paperwork within specific timeframe. They banned adviser of the Magnitude Group. They banned insurance broker of Leedam Pty Ltd. The list goes on and on and on. Mostly ASIC came down really hard on small to medium size businesses.

 

I am the first to congratulate ASIC for cleaning the industry from the dodgy operators. I would congratulate them even more if they actually dared to face up to the real bullies of the industry.

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Federal Budget, Retirement and Death

Over the past couple of weeks we all have been exposed to the proposed “tough love” budget that our Federal Government is attempting to pass through Parliament.

One of the things that will affect most of us – the retirement age is set to go up to 70 years. While it scares me to even think that I might have to be in a workforce for so long, there is something that scares me even more. It’s the thought that we will have significantly higher number of drivers in their mid to late sixties regularly navigating our roads.

Are you ready to retire?

Are you ready to retire?
Is the government ready for you to retire?

Why does it scare me? It’s simple, really. Older drivers are not as safe as the younger ones. They are accountable for one-third of all fatalities related to traffic accidents.

Now, before all the old-timers out there decide to collectively bash me up – statistics don’t lie. Of 247 fatalities in a 12 months to April 2014, 84 are from the age group of 60+.

The reality of it is, this number is set to go even higher. Today drivers over 60 years old are mostly drive out of peak hours, and mostly for recreational purposes. When they will have to drive to and from work, faced with bumper to bumper traffic, and an added pressure of getting there on time, how will they cope?

I wonder if the government is prepared to spend extra money paying unemployment to all the young people who will have to wait few extra years for the older generation to retire?

I wonder if the government is prepared to spend extra money paying for increased number if accidents on our roads?

But most of all, I wonder if it’s a ploy to force all those 70-year-olds to become just another road accident statistic, thus eliminating the need to pay them pension for another 10-20 years?

Getting old doesn’t look like a lot of fun right now…

Managing your own financial affair isn’t a rocket science.

I finally did it. With only 8 days till the deadline, I have submitted my Tax Return.

It was an intense 2 hours, skimming thru ATO’s regulations, digging out 12-months old receipts, generally trying to do the right thing.

Tax Time is the time to get involved

Tax Time is the time to get involved

All this made me remember doing my very first Tax Return, all those years ago. It used to be a very involved process. First, it required a visit to a Newsagency to pick up a copy of the Return, and to get a pack of smokes (I’ll need them). Then I needed to clean up the dining table, so I can spread all the papers out, next step was realising that I don’t have a black ink pen, so back to the Newsagency I go, getting a bottle of vodka from a bottle shop while I’m out (I’ll need it later too). Finally, about an hour after I’ve started filling in the form, I hopelessly stuffed it up. Stuffed it up to a point that I just knew that no amount of Whiteout would fix it. Which only meant one thing – another visit to the Newsagency, to get another blank form.

Back home with the form, thoroughly frustrated, I spend the next few hours doing my best impersonation of an old accountant. I grumble, I argue with the form I’m filling in, I’m yelling at my pen, I admonishing the receipt for deciding to play hide and seek with me.  At long last, it is done. Two sets of forms and a pack of smokes later, I feel totally exhausted, but my Tax Return is done. Now all that’s left to do is to jump in a car and drive to the local Tax Office branch to make sure my forms are there in time. By the end of the day, the place looked a lot like this:

Paperwork during tax time

Paperwork during tax time

 

Looking back at the way I did my first Tax Return, I suddenly realise that today’s tax affair is rather boring, uneventful, even dull.

After having a late breakfast on a Sunday morning, I downloaded eTax software from the ATO website, “digging out 12-months old receipts” in reality only took a couple of minutes, as most of them are electronically stored in my e-mail. No hunting for forms or for pens. No wasting time going to and from Newsagency. If a mistake is made, all it takes is to hit the Back button and correct the mistake. And once all is done, getting the information to the Tax Office is as easy as pressing the Lodgement button.

All this makes me wonder why would people pay hundreds of dollars to have their basic Tax Returns done by accountants? Unless you have a complex financial portfolio consisting of investment properties, shares, running a couple of small businesses, you don’t really need anyone sticking their nose in our financial affairs. Think about it – a lot of people would pay a few hundred dollars to an accountant, just to have a couple of hundred dollars in tax return. next year, why don’t you give it a go and try doing it yourself. After all, if you were smart enough to have finished high school, you are smart enough to manage your own Tax Return.