A Perth-based adviser has been permanently banned by ASIC following a surveillance of his advice when he was an authorised representative of Westpac and the FinancialLink Group.
In a statement, ASIC said it became aware that Phillip Emidio Bruni had been dishonest and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, including by retrospectively creating advice documents and reproducing a client’s signature.
The corporate regulator reviewed meta data from Mr Bruni’s advice documents and found that in response to statutory notices, he had created replicas of statements of advice documents that he was required by law to create and retain but had not.
Additionally, Mr Bruni attempted to cover up his failure to obtain a signed ‘authority to proceed’ from a client, and copied and pasted his client’s signature from a ‘fact-find’ document (which outlines a client’s circumstances and needs) without the client’s consent or approval.
Further, it was noted Mr Bruni did not tell his licensee or ASIC that the documents produced to ASIC were not copies of original documents, and only admitted to creating the replica documents and the ‘authority to proceed’ when questioned by ASIC.
In its review, ASIC also found that Mr Bruni had failed to give appropriate advice or provide advice documents to his clients. He also failed to act in the best interests of his clients or to prioritise their interests.
It found that when Mr Bruni was providing advice, it did not objectively assess the information provided by his clients or tailor his recommendations to their circumstances.
As an example, in relation to property investment through an SMSF, Mr Bruni did not make adequate inquiries to assess if an SMSF was indeed appropriate or whether his client could undertake the role of an SMSF trustee.
Additionally, Mr Bruni could not demonstrate that he had investigated alternative products or strategies that could help his clients achieve their goals.
Further, ASIC found that Mr Bruni also failed to provide information to his clients about the costs, benefits and consequences of his recommendations, which would have helped them make better informed decisions.
“ASIC’s decision reflects our expectation that financial advisers uphold the attributes of honesty and professionalism in their work,” said ASIC commissioner Danielle Press.
“Providing false evidence to ASIC under any circumstances is a breach of the law and will not be tolerated. ASIC expects advisers to adhere to the law at all times and meet their obligations of providing appropriate advice that is in the best interests of their clients.”
The banning of Mr Bruni will be recorded on ASIC's Financial Advisers Register and the Banned and Disqualified Persons Register.
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