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Financial planning firm penalised for 'misleading advertising'

The corporate regulator has fined non-aligned dealer group Omniwealth Services $10,200 after it posted "potentially misleading claims" on its website.

The site included a page on the advantages of investing in property with a self-managed super fund, according to a statement from ASIC. The page compared the performance of a geared property investment within an SMSF with an ungeared equity investment within an SMSF, ASIC said.

The web page was promoted through the social media account of Omniwealth's chief executive, who said that investing in property in an SMSF has taxation, leverage and diversification advantages, ASIC said.

The regulator was concerned that the web page did not offer a "balanced message" about the returns, benefits and risks of investing in property with an SMSF and that the uncertainty of forecasts was not clear.

"Making appropriate investment decisions is one of the most important responsibilities of SMSF trustees. ASIC is determined that SMSF trustees get accurate information and are not misled by advertising, including on websites and through social media," said ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell.

Omniwealth has since removed the statements from its website and related social media accounts, ASIC said.

Speaking to ifa, chief executive office Matthew Kidd said the penalty came as a "massive surprise" for the Omniwealth team.


He said the firm has third-party compliance managers who had not picked up any forms of infringement and consider themselves "good corporate citizens of ASIC."

Further, Mr Kidd said the firm wasn't consulted before being hit with the fine.

"We put a detailed to submission to ASIC about why the fine should be reconsidered and we were knocked back. And we were disappointed because this was based on a potentially misleading claim, not actual misleading claim," he said.

However, Mr Kidd stressed Omniwealth has been apologetic and has fully cooperated with ASIC.