The corporate regulator has accepted enforceable undertakings from ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank after finding branch staff had provided unauthorised personal financial advice.
In a statement, ASIC said the Commonwealth Bank and ANZ have both agreed to pay a $1.25 million community benefit payment and change their superannuation distribution model after an investigation found branch staff offering unauthorised personal advice was “common practice”.
“CBA's fact-finding process was called a 'Financial Health Check'. CBA staff also sometimes helped customers roll over their other superannuation into the Essential Super account at the time of distribution,” ASIC said.
“ANZ’s fact-finding process was called an 'A-Z Review'.”
According the statement, ASIC was concerned that the time between the completion of the fact-find process and the discussion about the relevant superannuation products (CBA’s Essential Super and ANZ’s Smart Choice Super and Pension) had led staff at both banks to give personal advice when authorised only to provide general advice.
“ASIC was concerned that customers may have thought, due to the proximity of the fact-finding process to the offer of Essential Super or Smart Choice Super, that the CBA branch staff or the ANZ branch staff were considering risks specific to the customer when this was not the case,” the regulator said.
“These court enforceable undertakings prevent CBA from distributing Essential Super in conjunction with a Financial Health Check and ANZ from distributing Smart Choice Super in conjunction with an A-Z Review.
“They also require CBA and ANZ to each make a $1.25 million community benefit payment. If there is a breach of the undertaking ASIC can, under the ASIC Act, apply for orders from the court to enforce compliance.”
The regulator noted that CBA chose to suspend distribution of Essential Super through branches in October 2017.
ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell said the regulator intends to keep a focus on the distribution of such products in the future.
“ASIC will continue to proactively monitor how complex financial products such as superannuation are sold,” he said.
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