ASIC has banned Mark Lionel Tidbury, financial adviser and former representative of Meritum Financial Group, from providing financial advice for six years due to his improperly switching superannuation clients.
The regulator found that Mr Tidbury had contravened a financial services law and was likely to contravene a financial services law in the future.
An ASIC review of Mr Tidbury's advice found that in a number of instances, he had recommended clients switch to a different superannuation product in circumstances where there was little benefit, but significant additional cost to the client in switching.
The switching advice benefited Mr Tidbury through his receiving increased adviser fees. In doing so, he had:
· failed to act in the best interests of his clients, by giving them advice that may leave the clients in a worse position than if they had not followed his advice;
· failed to accurately disclose the fees associated with the advice;
· failed to put the interests of his clients ahead of his own when he knew that there was a conflict between his and the clients' interests; and
· failed to provide sufficient information to clients about the charges associated with the switching of their financial products.
ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell said, "Financial advisers must put their clients' interests ahead of their own. Super switching that provides little benefit to the client but is very profitable to advisers is clearly unacceptable."
Mr Tidbury has a right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC's decision.
He was a representative of Meritum from August 2013 to June 2014. Meritum identified his misconduct through a proactive commission data review.
In February this year, 10 licensees made changes to operations after being found guilty of providing "deficient" complex product advice, with a mixture of bank-aligned and independently-owned firms named.
An ASIC document revealed that at least three Meritum advisers whose authorisation was removed at the time were involved in "systemic breaches".
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