***Updated*** Owner of Former AFA Practice of the Year and TV show host Sam Henderson has faced terse questioning at the royal commission over alarming misconduct at the boutique firm he leads.
Mr Henderson was called before the commission to answer questions about an SOA he gave to a client, Fair Work commissioner Donna McKenna.
The advice given to Ms McKenna recommended most of her capital shifted into Henderson Maxwell products and one of her superannuation accounts rolled into a Henderson Maxwell-run SMSF (at the loss of a $500,000 lump sum payment for accessing the funds early).
Counsel assisting Rowena Orr QC tendered as evidence a recording of a phone conversation between a Henderson Maxwell employee and the client’s superannuation fund.
The recording showed the employee impersonating Ms McKenna without permission in order to obtain information about the fund.
Mr Henderson told the commission he was unaware of the deceit at the time, and that the information obtained by the researcher (that Ms McKenna was in a deferred benefit scheme and would lose money starting an SMSF) was not then relayed to him anyway.
He said he did not terminate the staff member after learning of her actions, but denied this decision was made in a bid to hide the impersonation from public scrutiny.
“I would openly say that she impersonated the client,” he said. “It was most definitely the wrong thing to do. And I was bitterly disappointed that someone would do that under my responsibility.”
Ms Orr also questioned Mr Henderson over his emails to FPA chief executive Dante De Gori after Ms McKenna made a complaint to the association, asking if he was attempting to pressure or sway the outcome of the FPA’s review.
Mr Henderson denied this was his intention, but conceded that he did request on multiple occasions for the association to keep the complaint confidential due to the impact it would have on his media presence.
“I was reaching out in a state of desperation, because I felt I just wanted to be heard,” he said.
News Corp Australia publications have reported that Mr Henderson's television show on Sky News Business has now been cancelled.
The royal commission financial advice hearings continue today. Follow live: https://www.ifa.com.au/strategy/25404-royal-commission-financial-advice-hearings-live-blog
Correction: A previous version of this story referred to Sam Henderson as 'former AFA Adviser of the Year' based of royal commission transcripts which identified him as "AFA Planner of the Year". The article has been updated to reflect that this was not the case, rather that Henderson Maxwell was the AFA's Practice of the Year.
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