Thursday, 16 April 2015

Are big banks just licensed thieves? A ticket clippers update

Earlier this week it was just the National Australia Bank fessing up that its UK arm had cheated customers. Today the NAB is among the financial institutions that the Australian Securities and Investment Commission is investigating for charging clients for financial advice that was never given.
Not that the update by ASIC named those helping it with its enquiries. The corporate cop still seems strangely diffident about naming and shaming. You have to look elsewhere to discover that it is the wealth arms of the Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, ANZ Bank, Macquarie Group and AMP that is being investigated.
Still, I suppose a semi-silent investigation is better than no investigation.
ASIC today provided an update on its Wealth Management Project which is focusing on the conduct of the largest financial advice firms.
ASIC is investigating multiple instances of licensees charging clients for financial advice, including annual advice reviews, where the advice was not provided.  Most of the fees have been charged as part of a client’s service agreement with their financial adviser.
Deputy Chairman, Peter Kell said: ‘ASIC will consider all regulatory options, including enforcement action, where we find evidence of breaches of the law relating to fees being charged where no advice service has been provided. We will look to ensure that advice licensees follow a proper process of customer remediation and reimbursement of fees where such breaches have occurred.’
The ASIC Wealth Management Project was established in October last year with the objective of lifting standards in major financial advice providers. Under this project ASIC is carrying a number of investigations and is conducting a range of proactive risk-based surveillances with particular focus on compliance in large financial institutions.
ASIC’s investigations are continuing.
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