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ASIC bans unlicensed SMSF adviser

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has issued its first ban for unlicensed self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) advice since releasing the findings of its SMSF taskforce.

In a statement released yesterday, ASIC revealed it has cancelled the credit licence of Melbourne-based property investment company Money Choices and banned its director, Matthew George, from providing financial services for three years and providing credit services for eight years.

An ASIC investigation into the company found that George had recommended that a number of individuals set up an SMSF in order to invest in a property on the Sunshine Coast, in breach of compliance requirements.

“Mr George was found to have advised some clients to set up an SMSF for the purpose of purchasing property when he was not licensed to provide such advice,” said ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell.

“We do not want to see SMSFs become the vehicle of choice for property spruikers and the action we’ve taken against Mr George should serve as a timely warning of ASIC’s intention to ensure compliance with the law.

“ASIC is committed to improving the standards of advice given to investors regarding the establishment of SMSFs and the investments within the SMSF, including investment properties.”

The cancellation follows a report released by ASIC in April which detailed the findings of the regulator's eight-month taskforce investigation into professional advice given to SMSF trustees.

The report found “concerning pockets of poor advice” on offer, and many of these cases involved SMSFs being used as a vehicle through which to gear into property.

Kell said that ASIC was now preparing to take enforcement action to “protect SMSF investors and stop unlicensed SMSF advice and misleading advertising”.