life insurance

ASIC starts investigating hundreds of SMSFs

Self Managed Super Funds

The corporate regulator has launched a major investigation into hundreds of funds in a bid to uncover unlicensed SMSF advice.

As reported by ifa sister publication SMSF Adviser earlier this year, ASIC is currently conducting a major shadow shopping exercise, and has now started contacting various SMSF professionals to collate data on the set-up process of hundreds of funds, as part of a massive research project set for release later this year.

 

In emails seen by SMSF Adviser, it is clear ASIC has selected several hundred funds that were set up in September 2016 for random investigation, and is contacting tax agents associated with the funds.

ASIC is asking if the clients of the tax agents received any professional advice about establishing their SMSF and, if so, that the contact details are passed on.

While ASIC is gathering details about both financial advisers and accountants as part of this project, it is understood that broadly, unlicensed accountants in particular are on the regulatory radar.

The information supplied to ASIC is treated as anonymous, but the general findings will be published in a report slated for the second half of this year, an ASIC spokesperson told SMSF Adviser.

ASIC could not outline any further details of the investigation, except to confirm that it is pursuing its “major” shadow shop as announced in February, and will be looking at random samples of SMSF advice.

Despite being relatively lax in the past to instances of accountants operating outside of the accountants’ exemption in particular, BDO’s national leader for superannuation Shirley Schaefer suggested ASIC will be taking no prisoners this time around.

“I suspect a lot of accountants have sat outside the accountants’ exemption for years, and ASIC never did anything about it in the past,” Ms Schaefer told SMSF Adviser.

She acknowledged that many accountants do not agree that the SMSF services they are providing fall into the financial advice category, an argument that is largely irrelevant in 2017.

“This is not just tax advice. I certainly believe [SMSFs are] a structure not a product, but that argument is gone. There’s no point having that one again. We’ve been there and it’s gone,” Ms Schaefer said.

 

Article from: Independent Financial Advisor 

KATARINA TAURIAN- Wednesday, 29 March 2017

ASIC permanently bans former Melbourne insurance broker Mr Anthony Doring, from providing financial services

Financial adviser

ASIC has permanently banned Mr Anthony Doring of Melbourne, Victoria, from providing financial services. Between 2009 and October 2015, Mr Doring was a manager of Phil Doring Insurance Brokers (PDIB), which provided insurance services and which had offices in Mackay and Melbourne.

ASIC has permanently banned Mr Anthony Doring of Melbourne, Victoria, from providing financial services. Between 2009 and October 2015, Mr Doring was a manager of Phil Doring Insurance Brokers (PDIB), which provided insurance services and which had offices in Mackay and Melbourne.

Following a hearing, ASIC found that Mr Doring had:

  • failed to ensure that PDIB operated pursuant to an Australian financial services (AFS) licence when providing financial services;
  • deliberately engaged in dishonest conduct by misappropriating money from the PDIB trust account, and using this to enable PDIB to continue trading;
  • cancelled client insurance policies without authorisation; and
  • failed to comply with the requirement that a person who is licenced with an AFS license lodge an annual auditor's report and financial statements with ASIC. 

In addition, Mr Doring was made bankrupt on 19 July 2016.

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, 'The investing public needs to be able to trust those who provide financial services.'

'ASIC will act to remove those who behave without regard to their obligations to their clients from the financial services industry.'

Mr Doring's banning will be recorded on ASIC's register of financial advisers.

Mr Doring has a right of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Background

Mr Doring failed to obtain an AFS licence for the PDIB business following the death of his father, Phillip Doring, in April 2013. Phillip Doring had held an AFS licence in his personal capacity.

In October 2015, Steadfast Group Limited, a dealer group of which PDIB was a member, reported its concerns to ASIC regarding the conduct of Mr Doring and the existence of an apparent shortfall in the PDIB trust account of between $700,000 and $1.1 million.

PDIB was placed into liquidation on 18 April 2016 with Peter Gountzos of SV Partners appointed as liquidator.

16-429MR ASIC bans life insurance financial adviser for seven years

ASIC has banned life insurance financial adviser Mr Mateen Mohammed, of Calamvale, Queensland, from providing financial services for seven years.

ASIC’s action against Mr Mohammed, a former authorised representative of Synchronised Business Services Pty Ltd, is part of ongoing enforcement and regulatory action following ASIC’s review of life insurance advice.

As a result of ASIC's surveillance, it was found that Mr Mohammed:

  • had not maintained the high standards expected of a provider of financial services;
  • did not understand the duties and obligations imposed on a provider of financial services; and
  • could not be relied upon to discharge the duties and obligations imposed on a provider of financial services.

In particular, it was found that Mr Mohammed did not act in the best interests of his clients in that he failed to:

  • make reasonable enquires into clients' relevant objectives, financial situation and needs;
  • conduct a reasonable investigation into financial products that might achieve the objectives of the clients, including their existing superannuation and insurance products; and
  • prioritise the interests of his clients over his own.

ASIC also found that he had submitted an insurance application without his client's knowledge and as a result had misled or deceived the insurer as to his authority to do so.

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, 'Any advice to switch existing life insurance and superannuation products must be in the client's best interest. Where there is nothing in the client’s relevant circumstances to indicate that the switch would be beneficial, ASIC will conclude that the client is not in a better position.'  

Mr Mohammed was an authorised representative of Synchronised Business Services Pty Ltd during the relevant period, from 1 July 2010 to 22 April 2015.

Mr Mohammed has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.

Background

Outcomes following ASIC’s review of life insurance advice include:

  • in May 2016, ASIC accepted an enforceable undertaking from Michael Melamed, a former authorised representative of Synchronised Business Service Pty Ltd (refer:16-147MR)
  • in February 2016, ASIC permanently banned life insurance financial adviser Andrew Moroney (refer: 16-036MR)
  • in January 2016, ASIC accepted an enforceable undertaking from Clearview Financial Advice Pty Ltd representative, Jason Churchill (refer:16-008MR);
  • in September 2015, ASIC banned life insurance financial adviser and former authorised representative Lukas Zelka of Neo Financial Solutions Pty Ltd from providing financial services for three years (refer: 15-269MR);
  • in July 2015, ASIC banned life insurance financial adviser Brian Farber from providing financial services for four years (refer: 15-178MR);
  • in January 2015, ASIC imposed conditions on the Australian financial services (AFS) licence of Suncorp-owned Guardian Advice (refer: 15-003MR).

16-374MR ASIC bans Brisbane life insurance financial adviser for five years

ASIC has banned Mr Christopher Young, a life insurance financial adviser, from providing financial services for a period of five years.

Mr Young was an authorised representative of Affinia Financial Advisers Pty Ltd (Affinia) in the period 12 June 2013 to 23 July 2015.

ASIC commenced surveillance on Mr Young in mid-2015, which included a review of a number of his client files from the time he was an authorised representative of Affinia.

As a result of the surveillance, ASIC found that Mr Young had failed to act in his clients' best interests when providing advice and that he had failed to comply with several financial services laws.

In particular, it was found that Mr Young failed to:

  • provide sufficient detail in Statements of Advice to enable his clients to make informed decisions about his advice;
  • keep proper records; and in some instances, he had created false or misleading client file notes; 
  • make reasonable enquires into clients' relevant objectives, financial situation and needs;
  • determine if the amounts of insurance cover he recommended were appropriate and if premiums were affordable and payment could be maintained by clients;
  • conduct a reasonable investigation into financial products that might achieve the objectives of the clients;
  • provide the required information about his remuneration and other relevant interests when providing financial product advice; and 
  • demonstrate the ability, professional skills and knowledge required to competently provide financial services.

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, 'Consumers should be confident that their financial adviser is acting in their best interests'.

'The business model of simply 'selling' life insurance without complying with the legal and regulatory obligations will not be tolerated by ASIC. Advisers who do so will be removed from the industry.'

Background

ASIC's action was a response to information it received from the licensee, Affinia, regarding potential systemic concerns about advice provided by Mr Young in relation to insurance and superannuation products. 

Following the identification of these concerns, and after Mr Young had ceased as a representative of Affinia in July 2015, Affinia reviewed all advice provided by Mr Young and implemented a remediation program for affected clients who had received advice from him.

16-323MR ASIC bans former Westpac financial adviser

ASIC has banned Adelaide financial adviser Michael Mahoney from providing financial services for a period of four years.

Mr Mahoney was employed by the BT Financial Group Pty Ltd (BTFG) in the Westpac Scaled Advice Insurance business from October 2013 to July 2014 to provide general advice only to retail clients on insurance products.

ASIC's investigation found that during the period Mr Mahoney was employed at BTFG, he engaged in conduct that was misleading and deceptive. Specifically, he entered false information regarding various clients' health or health-risk factors in telephone applications for insurance policies issued by Westpac Life Insurance Services Ltd (WLIS). This resulted in WLIS issuing policies to clients based on false information and assuming greater risks without having an opportunity to undertake an assessment of those risks.

WLIS has agreed to honour the affected client policies.

ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, 'This outcome shows that ASIC expects employees who are providing financial services to maintain high standards and not engage in conduct that is misleading and deceptive.'

Mr Mahoney has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.

Background

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 advice firms (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, AMP and Macquarie).

ASIC's work in the Wealth Management Project covers a number of areas including:

  1. working with the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliant advice;
  2. seeking regulatory outcomes when appropriate against Licensees and advisers.

As part of its Wealth Management Project, ASIC has banned the following advisers from the financial services industry, in addition to Mr Mahoney: