A former life insurance executive has called on the Financial Services Council to take greater responsibility for the misconduct of its members uncovered by the royal commission.
Speaking to ifa, former TAL executive turned mental health advocate Patrick O’Connor said the testimony provided to the royal commission in recent weeks has implications for the FSC and its codes of conduct.
Both AMP group executive (advice and New Zealand) Jack Regan and Commonwealth Private executive general manager Marianne Perkovic – who were called as witnesses before the second round of hearings – are directors of the FSC and admitted to acts of misconduct on behalf of their respective organisations.
Mr O’Connor said the influence of these two executives over FSC policy must be examined alongside an investigation into whether they have breached the council’s codes of conduct.
“They don’t just represent their employers,” he said. “They represent the industry body.”
While there is no evidence the FSC itself is responsible for misconduct, Mr O’Connor said the organisation – of which his former employer TAL is a full member – is implicated nonetheless.
“In the same way a failed drug test of its players affects a sporting team, the admissions of recent weeks affect the credibility of the FSC,” he said.
An FSC spokesperson told ifa that an investigation into whether any of its members have breached internal protocols is “in train”.
However, Mr O’Connor questioned the ability for the FSC to hold its members accountable.
“No financial penalty exists for any FSC member for reaching the code and no financial compensation is payable to consumers who have been proven to be unfairly treated,” he asserted.
The former TAL manager – who describes himself as a sufferer of a “severe mental health condition” – blew the lid on the insurance industry’s unsatisfactory approach to mental ill-health claims in an ABC TV report earlier this year.
Following a longstanding dispute with his former employer, Mr O’Connor took a break from the financial services industry and now works with mental health organisations Livin and Beyondblue.
Mental health assistance resources:
Lifeline: 13 11 14www.lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
beyondblue: 1300 22 4636www.beyondblue.org.au
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