The Council of Financial Regulators (CFR) is the coordinating body for Australia’s main financial regulatory agencies. There are four members – the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and The Treasury. The Reserve Bank Governor chairs the CFR and the RBA provides secretariat support.
The CFR is a non-statutory body. That is, it has no legislative backing and as a consequence has no formal regulatory or policy decision-making powers. Those powers rest with its members under their respective acts. Instead, the CFR operates as a means for cooperation and coordination among member agencies.
The CFR's objectives, as set out in its Charter, are to promote stability of the Australian financial system and support effective and efficient regulation by Australia’s financial regulatory agencies. In doing so, the Council recognises the benefits of a competitive, efficient and fair financial system. The members achieve this by:
- identifying important issues and trends in the financial system, with a focus on those that may impinge upon overall financial stability;
- exchanging information and views on financial regulation and assisting with coordination where members' responsibilities overlap;
- harmonising regulatory and reporting requirements, paying close attention to regulatory costs;
- ensuring appropriate coordination among the agencies in planning for and responding to instances of financial instability; and
- coordinating engagement with the work of international institutions, forums and regulators as it relates to financial system stability.
The CFR's focus on cooperation and coordination is supported by multiple Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and bilateral coordination arrangements between member agencies. The MoUs cover such matters as information sharing, prompt notification of any regulatory decisions likely to impact other agencies’ responsibilities, and consultation arrangements in the event of financial disturbances. Given the CFR’s central role in crisis management, a specific MoU on financial distress management was agreed by the CFR members in 2008. Close cooperation between CFR agencies is complemented by overlapping representation on relevant governance committees: the APRA Chairman currently represents APRA on the Payments System Board of the RBA; and the Secretary to the Treasury is a member of the RBA Board.
Given the important financial linkages between Australia and New Zealand, the Council of Financial Regulators (CFR) places considerable importance on the effective coordination of trans-Tasman crisis resolution and planning arrangements. This coordination is achieved through the Trans-Tasman Council on Banking Supervision (TTBC).