Dover advisers band together, mull legal action
Authorised representatives of Dover Financial Advisers are rallying in the face of their licensee’s shock shutdown, desperately seeking to minimise client damage and financial losses.
Last week, ifa exclusively reported that Dover will be cancelling its AFSL in July, giving its financial advisers what director Terry McMaster acknowledged is “short notice” to find alternative licensing arrangements in order to continue providing advice to clients.
Over the long weekend, ifa has spoken to numerous Dover authorised representatives and has also obtained a chain of email correspondence between advisers affected by the announcement.
In order to respect the confidentiality of these advisers, we have chosen to keep their identities anonymous but can confirm that all of the below quotes are from individuals listed as Dover authorised representatives on the ASIC financial adviser register.
Some have responded emotionally to the explosive email from Mr McMaster, concerned for the wellbeing of their clients, staff and families.
“It is quite evident that we are all feeling confused and unhappy,” one Dover adviser said in an email to fellow authorised representatives.
Speaking to ifa directly, another described the prevailing sentiment as being “scared” for their financial situation and the uncertainty of the road ahead.
A number of Dover advisers have told ifa they never received the email from Mr McMaster, instead becoming informed of the decision via ifa’s coverage of the email and notifications from peers. They have expressed particular regret at the lack of communication from their licensee.
“We have a right to know what is going on,” said one.
Others have portrayed a more hard-nosed approach, considering the legal ramifications of the action from Dover and its impact on businesses and clients.
“Dover should be held accountable for our losses,” one Dover adviser tells others in the leaked email chain.
“I am sure we will be able to find a lawyer to take them on if enough of us get on board.
“Maybe this is something we can discuss if we can organise a large group meeting, we can even arrange to have a lawyer present.”
‘Sharing knowledge, pooling resources’
Some have taken a leadership position, seeking to co-ordinate the disparate representatives to act collectively as a community and assist one another to transition to new AFSL arrangements and find agreeable solutions.
“As shell-shocked as we are, we are gathering our thoughts and working on making sure that our colleagues have the support they need in this very distressing time,” one Dover adviser told ifa.
“We are sharing our knowledge, pooling our resources and working together to find new licensees.”
ifa understands that in addition to the email chain, a Facebook group has been established as a support resource for the embattled advisers and efforts are underway for some practices to potentially move collectively to new licensees.
On that note, some have expressed relief that select Dover competitors have come forward to offer assistance.
“Contrary to initial fears we have seen AFSL owners large and small come out of the woodwork to offer to help,” a Dover adviser told ifa.
“Licensees have been working through the weekend to get themselves into a position where they can start to take in Dover advisers.”
The party faithful
While some Dover advisers have expressed anger towards Mr McMaster and the Dover leadership for the unfortunate scenario in which they find themselves, others have demonstrated clear loyalty.
“Dover were the best licensee ethically on the market and the only non-aligned and non-conflicted dealer group that I know of,” one authorised representative told ifa.
Another said the network should stay true to “Terry [McMaster’s] wishes for the [financial advice] industry” and that they should “stand by” their original affinity for the dealer group and its culture.
In his email to advisers last week, Mr McMaster did not offer any reasons for the closure of the business beyond there being a confidential “negotiation” and “agreement” with ASIC.
However, he did indicate that his dramatic testimony before the royal commission had played a role as well as a difficult commercial environment.
“We have always aimed to bring a direct, unconflicted model to financial planning,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, it has proven impossible for us to continue in the current environment.”
A statement issued by ASIC indicated that while it had been investigating Dover since 2017, the ultimate decision to close the licensee rested with the Dover leadership.
Mr McMaster has declined a request for interview.
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