Official launch of the personal property securities guide for business and advisers

A speech by Gavin McCosker, Chief Operating Officer and Registrar of Personal Property Securities, Australian Financial Security Authority

Friday 13 November 2015

PPS Stakeholder forum, AFSA Sydney office

 

Hello and welcome. Thank you for being here today for the launch of the new guide on the Personal Property Securities Act and the personal property securities register.

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we meet on—and pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

We have with us here today, a number of our key stakeholders, who have worked closely with us since the commencement of Australia’s personal property securities regime—and some that have been involved for even longer, when the register was still a concept in development.

The nature and strength of our relationship with our stakeholders, which has developed over recent years, is testament to our shared commitment to the benefits of having an effective and reliable personal property securities system.

Our collective experience, knowledge and expertise, together with a growing understanding of each other’s business processes, systems and operating environments, has informed our planning and enhancements to the register.

Our strong collaboration has also helped us to develop this new guide for businesses and their advisers.

PPS and the SME sector

We know that the Personal Property Securities Act—and the register—has been a significant micro-economic reform for Australia.

We also know that it’s complex—and for many in the private sector—it’s taken a while to understand and appreciate how it can benefit their business arrangements and opportunities. This is particularly the case for small and medium enterprises—the SME sector.

This new resource is designed to address that.

The PPSR business guide has been developed to introduce the SME sector to the Personal Property Securities Act; to help raise awareness of the practical implications of the Act and to explain how they might benefit from using the register.

The guide will also support business advisers, such as accountants, financial advisers, lawyers, business advisory services and peak industry and professional bodies.

These practitioners and advisers are trusted advisers of the SME sector and are in a prime position to provide information on how the register can be used to manage risk—and access secured credit by using their collateral.

Production of the guide

It has taken some time to produce the guide. Presenting complex and technical information in plain English, while remaining true to the legislation and without comprising accuracy—is easier said than done!

We were also mindful of the differing levels of interest, understanding and need for the more technical content. These factors directly influenced the structure of the guide.

Structure of the guide

The first section—with the teal coloured border—is aimed directly at business owners—particularly those who may not be familiar with the PPS Act or the register. This section focuses on the business benefits—particularly on risk protection.

We have deliberately kept the language plain and avoided any terms that have a whiff of jargon or ‘legalese’—even going so far as just referring to the PPSR as ‘the register’.

Where needed, we have included additional details or clarification in footnotes.

The aim of section 1 is to provide general information. By the end of this section, business owners will at least know whether this is something they need to pay attention to.

Section 2—with the plum coloured border—is for those business owners who have decided they do need to use the register. This section provides practical information on how to use the register and it’s at this point in the guide that we start to introduce PPSR specific terms—especially those that they might come across on the register itself.

So the information gets gradually more complex as we work through the sections—in a layered approach.

Section 3—the yellow section—contains a handful of ‘garden variety’ type of case studies. These aren’t tutorials—so not every detail of the process is included. Again we were mindful not to lose people in the detail—but rather to provide an overview that would be meaningful.

Section 4—the red section—provides the technical detail—for those business owners who want the technical level but mainly for the adviser sector—who need to have a more thorough understanding of the relevant concepts, processes and applications.

Use of the guide

The concept of the guide has been shaped and refined since we first started work on it. We initially thought it would be a shorter publication and we’ve been asked why we didn’t break the guide into separate products—one for business owners (or an executive summary was suggested in some of the stakeholder feedback we received)—and one for advisers. The answer is in how we envisage the guide will be used.

We don’t see the guide being read in isolation. In its current form it can be circulated or passed on within a business owner’s circle—and regardless of who it’s passed on to—there should be content that’s pitched to that audience level / need.

As an example, a business owner might pick up a copy at an event held by their local business advisory service. They might only read section 1, but then pass it on to the office manager who may take on the role of PPSR account administrator. They will be interested in section 1 and 2. The business owner may also send it on to their adviser and ask if they need to change their business processes.

Alternatively, it could just as easily be used by an adviser to provide information to their SME clients—as a way of introducing the topic.

Design / layout

We’ve tried to make the guide visually engaging to encourage a time-poor business owner to read it. Although there is a lot of content covered, we’ve tried to present it in a way that doesn’t appear too overwhelming.

For example, we’ve used:

  • a large easy to read font (it’s not very inviting to open an official looking document with small font and condensed text)
  • lots of white space so it doesn’t look too busy
  • cartoon imagery
  • short paragraphs with clear headlines
  • handy ‘tip’ boxes
  • four clearly separate colour-coded sections.

In developing the guide, we’ve been ably assisted by Associate Professor David Brown from the Adelaide University, who has patiently drafted and refined the content. David’s expertise in the Personal Property Securities Act and its application has been invaluable and I thank him most sincerely.

I also want to place on record my appreciation of the contributions that members of the stakeholder forum have made—from your initial support for this resource, through to your review and suggested changes to the draft.

The guide has stemmed from and will strengthen the work that AFSA has underway to increase awareness of the personal property securities system among the SME sector and I hope it becomes a useful and much-used resource within the sector.

Thank you.