NAB Financial Planning launches false witness investigation

NAB Financial Planning has announced it is currently conducting a review of certain client forms after it found several instances of false witness signatures.

According to a statement, NAB is reviewing client Beneficiary Nomination Forms to ensure they have been completed correctly.

In late 2016, during a regular compliance review, one adviser and his support staff were found to have incorrectly witnessed Beneficiary Nomination Forms for clients, NAB said.

The clients had signed the form with only one witness present, and a second person signed as a witness without being present. Subsequent investigations found that this had occurred in other instances, the statement said. 

“While there is no evidence of ill-intent, and advisers gain no personal benefit, this practice is clearly wrong and is not acceptable,” said NAB Financial Planning general manager Tim Steele.

“We are not aware of any clients being impacted by this. We will work with trustees to determine whether any clients may need to re-sign these forms.”

NAB added it has notified ASIC about the matter and will continue to engage with the regulator about its findings.

“While advisers and staff may have been seeking to make things easier for clients, it is clearly wrong, and we are taking this matter very seriously,” Mr Steele said.

“As NAB has always said, where we find issues, we will investigate them, we will fix them and we will improve our systems and processes to prevent them from re-occurring.”

As part of the review, NAB said it has asked staff to report any instances when this may have happened, and advisers will have non-compliance consequences applied.

Those who do not self-report, and are later found to have not followed the correct processes, will face a review of their employment, NAB said.

“We are taking a thorough and methodical approach to this review, we have addressed this issue with our staff, and we have strengthened our existing auditing processes to ensure staff understand and adhere to the correct process moving forward,” Mr Steele said.

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