Libertas cuts ties with adviser over anti-Semitic tweets

Self-licensed dealer group Libertas Financial Planning has terminated Retirement Wealth Advisers' authorised representative status, after the Brisbane-based planning group's principal directed a slew of anti-Semitic comments against Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Twitter.

Over the weekend Retirement Wealth Advisers principal James Howarth responded to the Life Insurance Framework, which was released last week, by posting a series of tweets in which he calls Mr Frydenberg a "tinkering Jew" and a "central planning Jew" to his 5,865 followers.

Libertas managing director Mark Euvard told ifa he has terminated Retirement Wealth Advisers' authorised representative status as a result of the tweets.

Libertas has around 45 authorised representatives working under its AFSL.

"It's inappropriate and unacceptable and does not reflect the culture of our dealer group and appropriate action has been taken," Mr Euvrard said.

"[Mr Howarth] has been served notice, terminating his [authorised representative status]. He now has to find a new dealer group".

Mr Euvrard sent Mr Howarth an email this afternoon notifying him that their business relationship had ended.

On its website, Libertas said that it has "a strict vetting procedure in place to ensure we only have advisers with the mind-set where the client comes first".

Industry bodies have also spoken out against Mr Howarth's comments.

The Association of Financial Advisers issued a statement today calling for rational, respectful debate and condemned Mr Howarth's comments as disrespectful, unhelpful and discriminatory.

"James Howarth is not a member. If he were, this would see him sanctioned and his membership terminated. Respect is a core value within AFA culture," AFA chief executive Brad Fox said.

The Financial Planning Association also condemned the tweets.

"Mr Howarth was a member of the FPA, but left a year ago and was only a member for a year," FPA general manager, policy and conduct, Dante De Gori told ifa.

"This is not the behaviour we expect of professionals."

Despite this, Mr Fox still welcomes a vigorous debate, adding that financial advisers who offer life insurance advice should be concerned about what the changes outlined in the framewor will mean for their businesses and future.

The AFA said it would be facilitating numerous opportunities for members to engage in discussions about the proposed structure.

"Blogs, discussion groups, social media – these all have a role to play, but only to the extent that the discussions are based on facts and appropriate respect. We will be providing a number of opportunities for advisers to get the facts. That will lead to a better quality debate about the options going forward," Mr Fox said.

Mr Horwath was not available for comment when contacted by ifa.

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