Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific’s Legal and Compliance team is a small but dynamic team providing full service legal advice and compliance functions across the geographically vast Asia Pacific region.
The team is highly trusted and highly valued by the business, providing senior leadership and company boards with both strategic legal advice and company secretarial support.
In Australia, the team ensures the multi-faceted business adheres to a complex regulatory regime including its Australian financial services license (AFSL) for its sale and marketing activities and the Australian credit licence (and responsible lending obligations) for its consumer lending business. The team also ensures the business adheres to industry standards including the Australian Timeshare and Holiday Ownership Council’s (ATHOC) Code of Practice and the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) Code of Ethics.
In addition to the duties of their roles, team members also hold various positions internally and externally including the position of various company officers in multiple subsidiaries, alternate directors and members of various committees for ATHOC and Asia Pacific Resort Development Organisation (APRDO); company officers and fundraising commitee members for registered charity, Wishes by Wyndham, appointed member of Travel + Leisure Co. global diversity resource group, co-lead of EMEA and Asia Pacific region’s chapter of Women in Travel DRG, and VP Education for Wyndham Destinations chapter of Toastmasters in Australia.
The team has also contributed their legal expertise to industry, including input into a number of ATHOC submissions, attendance at various Treasury and ASIC working groups and meetings with many government representatives to support the timeshare industry, and inclusion in the working group for the merger of ATHOC with the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA). In addition, the team has contributed to the Singapore-based APRDO, providing input into lobbying within the Asian region and the research of timeshare specific legislation within various Asian jurisdictions.
Within the business, members of the legal team are valued by stakeholders for their ability to think strategically and provide innovative legal solutions for commercial outcomes. Thanks to the team’s efforts, the business has been able to survive a turbulent environment in 2021 while meeting its legal and compliance obligations across the nine different jurisdictions it operates in.
A few of the key achievements of the team in 2021:
• Management of a number of significant regulatory changes that had to be implemented across the business throughout 2021 including substantial changes to disclosure documents, additional sales processes, changes to complaint management timeframes and reporting obligations, increased breach reporting requirements and target market determinations
• Implementation of a new “paperless” board reporting platform across multiple subsidiary boards and committees reducing waste, tightening security of commercial information and improving efficiencies
• Taking on the supervision and oversight of the customer care team and consumer complaints process resulting in a reduction of escalated complaints during 2021 and increased communication and relationship building with Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)
• Provision of compliance training to more than 130 representatives achieving 100% of target despite challenges of location and travel restrictions
• Establishing practice management and contract review processes by new legal team member in Shanghai office
• Development of a new product and innovative distribution model to ensure compliance in multiple jurisdictions for the proposed acquisition of a new business/new markets
• Key role in the COVID response working group. Resort closures and changing government directions, often with limited to no notice, and ongoing associated travel restrictions meant that constant communication within the business and to owners and guests was essential to operations and the team provided ongoing guidance and oversight to the business on a regular (often daily) basis.
Despite the ongoing challenges faced within the hospitality industry during 2021, Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific continued to move forward with new and innovative programs and products as well as potential acquisitions which required significant input and support from the team in addition to their “day to day’ legal and compliance tasks. Team work was critical to success and this was demonstrated with every team member taking on additional tasks or providing support in areas outside of their usual roles in order to manage high volume, time critical and complex issues in multiple jurisdictions.
The Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific legal team is seen by colleagues, peers and the industry as a key contributor to the company’s ongoing success despite the adverse circumstances of 2021.