Behavioural economics is one example that springs to mind in terms of how investors really behave. IT skills are another in terms of assessing various algorithms and so forth.
In terms of ASIC’s facilitation role all we can try and do is link back to our purpose around trust and confidence in financial markets - in the end we are really focussed on financial services and financial markets rather than the training piece.
There’s also an important role around financial literacy and making sure people know who they are dealing with and the obligations of others in advising on products.
AC: Is technology evolving ASIC’s thinking in this regard?
JP: With the internet there is a real ability to get to the information people want very quickly and there is an opportunity to layer information in a helpful way. Financial literacy issues aside, I think that aspect of technology is very positive.
You also see business models around things like comparison websites. Now there are risks in some of those too of course (some of them may be misleading which is clearly is a problem) but there are also great benefits if the technology is used in the right way.
JM: It’s interesting isn’t it, because some of the market self regulates effectively too. As soon as a website is shown by somebody to be inappropriate, pretty soon the whole world. Social media is helping us here and it’s been transformative for the community.
JP: Yes, I agree. I think the big issue in those sorts of circumstances is if someone has acted on information to their detriment and the person advising no longer has any money to redress the issue. So things like professional indemnity insurance, external dispute resolution…these key consumer protection mechanisms are important
AC: John’s mentioned the UK as being well advanced in some of these issues. Do you see that from your side David?
DH: They have been able to create a location or ‘place’, which Australia doesn’t yet have. You ask anyone out there in different sectors where you go, where should we set up office, where should we take our idea, where should I start anew, it’s disparate….but not often is it Australia.
JM: I think the role of Boris Johnston as the London Mayor has been central to some of what’s been achieved because he has this personal mindset for innovation.
I think what we first heard Malcolm Turnbull say when he came to power was similar. But we don’t hear a lot of others rally on about innovation nearly in the same way from a face so well known.
We have a few politicians here but none of them seem to have the power to make the commitment to do something, which is a key difference with Johnston I think.
JP: I think there really is a great opportunity for Australia. While as a nation we are making good progress, we did start a little behind some of the other jurisdictions. But if we take a collaborative approach and really work together then I am confident we can be a real leader in the Asian market.
AC: How do you make Australia a desirable destination?
DH: It’s always lifestyle. People love Melbourne, they love Sydney but I don’t think many people are moving here for our industry, technology or innovation.
JM: Maybe an exception is our medical research - we have a strong global reputation in some areas of medical research. I think what we call the Parkville Precinct is very attractive to medical researchers who see great use for the technology and the culture.
They are developing some of the technology for scanning and so forth and they are right at the cutting edge. I think it is this great model and collaboration which individuals like Rufus Black are leading and trying to capture and promote through the Wade Institute attached to Ormond College. I think that example counters the rest, but otherwise David I agree with you.
AC: Is it too broad, the ambition? Should we say forget about a bunch of these others and instead say “look we have medical technology as a great opportunity” here in the present? Should we pick winners?
JM: I don’t think it’s only about medical research. I’d have thought there must be something in agriculture technology Australians could specialise in.
It feels as though it would be right because we need to look to better serve the emerging middle class in Asia - we would love it if we could be the food hub.
Of course there are challenges for us in doing this - infrastructure and how we get stuff to market is a big one.