"We ran a robust compliance program": AAAFI

"We ran a robust compliance program": AAAFI

Banned financial planning dealer group AAA Financial Intelligence (AAAFI) has responded for the first time to its licence cancellation by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, claiming it had met its compliance requirements.

“We ran a full and robust compliance program,” AAAFI group general manager Jennifer Pearse told ifa, adding that the company’s directors would be responding to the specific ASIC allegations in due course.

The statement runs counter to the guidance issued by ASIC on Wednesday 6 February, which stated that the company “failed to implement adequate supervision and compliance measures” – given as one of the factors that led to the decision to cancel AAA’s Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL).

Pearse said her main priority in the short term was assisting AAAFI’s 150-plus authorised representatives to enter into new licensing arrangements and continue trading with minimal inconvenience.

“We are focused first and foremost on the protection of our authorised representatives and the process of due diligence,” she said. “We are facilitating the move of our advisers to a new home.”

Pearse confirmed that AAA Financial Intelligence would not be pursuing an appeal as it is not able to do so under the terms of the AFSL cancellation, and that the affiliated AAA Shares – which, according to the ASIC guidance, does have “the right to seek a review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal" – will not be taking this action as it is currently in liquidation.

The comments made by AAA’s general manager follow statements made to ifa yesterday by former AAA director Ken Wybrow. Wybrow said he had been engaged in providing compliance advice to AAA since ceasing active duty with the company in 2007, in his new role as compliance director at Acompli.

"We audited AAA advisers at least once a year on their instructions," Wybrow said. "We submitted reports recommending extensive remedial actions that were required."

"To an extent, these recommendations were ignored by AAA,” he added.

Pearse confirmed that AAA had been receiving regular audits by Acompli but said she was “disappointed” by the comments made by Wybrow.

“We had – and maintain – a good working relationship with Accompli,” she said. “Only [Mr Wybrow] can speak to the accuracy of what he has said and why he has said those things.”

"We ran a robust compliance program": AAAFI
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