ASIC has banned Northern NSW-based financial adviser David O’Brien from providing financial services for four years following an ASIC surveillance.
Mr O’Brien was an authorised representative of AMP-owned Charter Financial Planning Limited, and most recently, NAB-owned GWM Adviser Services Limited.
ASIC’s review of a sample of Mr O’Brien’s advice files found that he failed to:
- make sufficient inquiries into his clients’ circumstances;
- conduct reasonable investigations into their existing financial products; and
- provide advice based on his clients’ personal circumstances.
ASIC found that when providing advice on superannuation, Mr O’Brien made no inquiries into matters such as costs, investment strategy, or whether his clients already had any insurance in place within their existing superannuation arrangements.
When providing insurance advice, Mr O’Brien failed to prepare a needs analysis or objectively assess what level of insurance cover would achieve his clients’ needs. One of Mr O’Brien’s clients had their cover declined for pre-existing medical conditions after their existing insurance had been cancelled, leaving them uninsured.
Financial advisers have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of their clients when providing personal advice. This includes taking reasonable steps to understand their clients’ personal circumstances and exploring existing financial products to ensure they are providing appropriate advice that meets their clients’ objectives.
The banning of Mr O’Brien is part of ASIC’s ongoing efforts to improve standards across the financial services industry. It will be recorded on ASIC’s publicly available Financial Advisers Register and the Banned and Disqualified Persons Register.
Mr O’Brien has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.
The banning of Mr O’Brien falls within ASIC’s Wealth Management Major Financial Institutions Portfolio. The Portfolio focuses on the financial services conduct of Australia’s largest financial institutions (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, Macquarie and AMP) with respect to credit and retail lending, financial advice, fees for no service, superannuation trustees, insurance, unfair contract terms and other licensee obligations.
As part of this work, ASIC has banned 64 advisers and three directors from the financial services industry. Five bannings are the subject of appeal.