ASIC has banned financial adviser Mr Graeme Ashley Cowper, of Oatley, NSW, from providing financial services for 4 years after an investigation found he was not adequately trained or competent to provide financial services.
This is the first administrative banning decision made by ASIC’s new Financial Services and Credit Panel following a hearing before it.
Between 2007 and 2015 Mr Cowper worked as a financial adviser at National Australia Bank, AON and Tynan Mackenzie while based in Sydney. He then transferred to Ipac Securities Limited, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AMP Limited.
Mr Cowper was banned from providing financial services after the Panel found that Mr Cowper:
- had a fundamental lack of understanding of the duties and obligations imposed by the Corporations Act 2001 on providers of financial services; and
- gave advice to a number of clients over the period 2007 to 2013 that did not appear to be appropriate.
In particular, the Panel found Mr Cowper:
- recommended gearing strategies when the client could not afford it;
- recommended clients switch to a new superannuation fund but did not give sufficient detail in the Statement of Advice (“SOA”) to enable the client to decide whether or not to proceed with the advice; and
- recommended clients switch to a new superannuation fund without warning them in the SOA that the new fund was expensive compared to their old fund, or that it included insurance that did not cover the client’s pre-existing health condition which was covered in the current fund.
Mr Cowper has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.
ASIC's MoneySmart website has useful information for clients of advisers to help them understand what to do if their adviser has been banned.
The banning of Mr Cowper is part of ASIC's Wealth Management Project. The Wealth Management Project was established in October 2014 to lift the standards of major financial advice providers. The Wealth Management Project focuses on the conduct of the largest financial advice firms (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, Macquarie and AMP).
ASIC's work in the Wealth Management Project covers a number of areas including:
- working with the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliant advice; and
- seeking regulatory outcomes, where appropriate, against licensees and advisers.
As part of its Wealth Management Project, ASIC has banned 48 advisers and one director from the financial services industry. Four bannings are the subject of appeals, with a further banning stayed pending the outcome of an appeal.
The Financial Services and Credit Panel
The Financial Services and Credit Panel (FSCP) is a pool of industry participants that ASIC draws upon when forming individual sitting panels (sitting panels). Each sitting panel comprises two members from the FSCP and an ASIC staff member. Sitting panels operate alongside our existing administrative decision-making processes for retail financial services and credit activities by providing an element of peer review.
Sitting panels decide whether we will make banning orders against individuals for misconduct in the course of providing retail financial services and/or engaging in credit activities. A banning matter may be referred to an individual sitting panel where we consider it appropriate for peer review because of its significance, complexity or novelty (refer: 17-388MR).