ASIC has banned Mark Lionel Tidbury, a financial adviser and former authorised representative of Meritum Financial Group Pty Ltd (Meritum), from providing financial services for six years. Meritum is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Australia Bank Group of Companies.
ASIC found Mr Tidbury had contravened a financial services law and was likely to contravene a financial services law in the future.
An ASIC review of Mr Tidbury's advice found that in a number of instances Mr Tidbury had recommended clients switch to a different superannuation product in circumstances where there was little benefit but significant additional cost to the client in switching. On the other hand, the switching advice benefited Mr Tidbury through increased adviser fees. In doing so, Tidbury had:
- Failed to act in the best interests of his clients, by giving them advice that may leave the clients in a worse position than if they had not followed his advice.
- Failed to accurately disclose the fees associated with the advice.
- Failed to put the interest of his clients ahead of his own when he knew that there was a conflict between his and the clients' interests.
- Failed to provide sufficient information to clients about the charges associated with the switching of their financial products.
ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said: "Financial advisers must put their clients' interests ahead of their own. Super switching that provides little benefit to the client but is very profitable to advisers is clearly unacceptable."
Mr Tidbury's banning will be recorded on ASIC;s register of financial advisers.
Mr Tidbury has a right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.
Mr Tidbury was a representative of Meritum from August 2013 to June 2014. Meritum identified Tidbury's misconduct through a proactive commission data review.
This outcome is a result of ASIC's Wealth Management Project. The Wealth Management Project was established in October 2014 with the objective of lifting standards by major financial advice providers. The Wealth Management Project focuses on the conduct of the largest financial firms (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, Macquarie and AMP).
ASIC's work in the Wealth Management Project covers a number of areas including:
- Working withe the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliant advice.
- Seeking regulatory outcomes where appropriate against Licensees and advisers. For example, as part of its Wealth Management Project ASIC has banned the following advisers from the financial services industry, in addition to Mr Tidbury:
- Amanda Ritchie (refer: 15-294MR)
- Stuart Murray Jamieson (refer:15-288MR)
- Sharnie Kent (refer: 15-286MR)
- Alfie Chong (refer: 15-259MR)
- Martin Hodgetts (refer: 15-218MR)
- Shawn Hickman (refer: 15-213MR)
- Brett O'Malley (refer: 15-121MR)
- Brian Farber (refer: 15-178MR), and
- Rebecca Locksley (refer: 15-070MR)