The evolution of the regulatory environment

27
Feb 19
Author:Tim Tran
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With an increase in assertiveness from major regulators such as ASIC & ACCC, more so than ever in today’s environment, corporate entities need to ensure their relationships with regulators are strong and transparent.

We asked Judilyn Beaumont, Executive Manager, Legal – Insurance & Marketplace Suncorp Group about her experience working with the regulators and how the regulatory environment has come to be.

Here is what she had to say:

How would you identify different tones with regulators?

It is important to identify a tone to be taken with different regulators and each regulator differs.

The severity of the matter differs by the customer’s impact, it differs by the regulator because of their different drivers. It differs at state and federal level.

You need to determine early on the level of contact and what level the seniority is needed to be proactive rather than reactive. You need to identify internally who is the right contact for the level of severity of the matter.

At Suncorp we identify the relevant stakeholders that need to be informed with the relevant information. We try and set up a timeline and a flight plan if it’s a big one. If it’s not we deal with it at a lower level.

Our CEO’s engagement is important after assessing the nature of the issue and if it’s going to be a significant matter or not. We identify a contact point at the regulator, we try and open a line of communication by talking to them rather than justy emailing. We give them regular updates.

What regulatory engagement strategies do you find effective?

If I talk more broadly about my experience, the type of engagement has changed and it will change again. When I started working as a regulator the engagement was very adversarial. It has changed to a more collaborative approach which has helped us and the regulator. It enables us to get a feel for what our drivers are and how it happens.

The flip side to that, is of course the regulator has suffered from being over collaborative sometimes and perhaps not strong enough.

I feel that the climate is going to change to a more adversarial engagement again. In my opinion adversarial is very costly for everyone involved. There was a period where things were taken to court all the time which proved to be costly for everybody. Who bears that ultimately is the customer. There is a nice balance to be had without taking matters to litigation. Not all the matters that are litigated succeed.

“To satisfy the public, the regulators need to be a little more tougher in their approach. “

What is your take on accountability and transparency amongst regulators?

Accountability is very important, if you don’t accept accountability people lose trust and faith in an organisation. In terms of transparency, I don’t think you should be overly sharing information. You should be transparent but remember that you have a duty to your shareholder and protect the best interest of your company too. You have to figure out the right level, you must be truthful in your communication but you don’t have to open up about everything.

How would you ideally like to see the regulators behave going forwards?

  • Ask them to continue the collaborative approach
  • They should be tougher and open to face to face discussions
  • I would encourage them to be open and listen to information before making judgement calls
  • I would suggest they make sure that they are not relying on assumptions that may not be accurate
  • Build an open relationship with the organisation

Don’t Miss Judylin sharing her insights on ‘Determining the right engagement strategy early on – setting the tone on cooperation’ at the Preparing & Responding to Regulatory Review on the 19th & 20th March 2019 in Sydney.

Submitted by Tim Tran

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