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AIOFP seeks apology over ASIC exec’s ‘jaundiced view’

Mike Taylor3 May 2024

Alleged statements by one of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC’s) senior executives during a roundtable with industry representatives has led to a letter of complaint being sent to ASIC chair, Joe Longo.

The Association of Independently Owned Financial Professionals (AIOFP) has written to Longo and copied in the Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones expressing concern about comments made by ASIC senior executive leader, Superannuation and Life Insurance, Jane Eccleston claiming they indicated a “rather jaundiced and misguided view of the Advice community”.

The AIOFP is also seeking an apology. The Financial Advice Association of Australia (FAAA) and the Financial Services Council (FSC) also attended the roundtable.

For its part, ASIC has described the AIOFP’s allegations as not accurate.

“This is not accurate and personal attacks are inappropriate and unconstructive,” an ASIC spokesperson said.  “ASIC’s number one focus is on ensuring the best outcomes for Australians.”

The letter, written by AIOFP executive director, Peter Johnston said as follows:

“Ms Eccleston commenced the Group discussion and literally stated the following in her opening remarks ‘We are here because Financial Advisers had been taking money out of Clients Accounts’…….we were flabbergasted by such erroneous commentary. When I challenged Ms Eccleston on the accuracy of her comments the only retort was ‘they [the Advisers] eventually got some of it’…..Considering Bank Advisers were on fixed incomes I question that assertion.  “

“This is not only highly offensive and illogical but appears to be a spurious attempt to smear the Advice community in front of all other stakeholders. In addition, we point out that this behaviour is in breach of the Australian Public Service [APS] Values guidelines under Impartiality, Respectful and Ethical standards,” Johnston’s letter to the ASIC chair said..

“We are trying to rebuild the Advice industry for the benefit of consumers but having Senior Public Servants making such comments is unhelpful and quite frankly appalling,” the letter said.

“We pointed out to the meeting that it was the ‘faceless’ Banking Executives who allowed the sweeping of fees from client’s accounts [including the dead] to take money for a service that was never delivered. It was not the internal Bank Advisers and certainly not independent Advisers who do not have access to client’s bank accounts or any other account. It should also be noted that not one Banking Executive was charged over these incidents.”

“For the record, after this devious activity was discovered during the Royal Commission, Commissioner Hayne recommended that Consent Forms be used where the trustees of Superannuation Funds must approve any deductions from a clients account to pay for advice services. This seemed fair under the circumstances at the time BUT the Banks have now left the Advice sector leaving behind Consumers and Advisers to deal with an expensive and unnecessary compliance impost.”

“These Consent Forms do not exist in any other jurisdiction on earth and should not exist in Australia. It seems to be the Canberra based Bureaucrats pushing this agenda but they do not conceptualise that Advisers have no choice but to pass these unnecessary expenses directly back to their clients to pay. Why should consumers be paying for the Banking sector misdeeds?”

“We are requesting a written apology from Ms Eccleston within 14 days which will be circulated to the industry and media. This correspondence will also be shared with the media.”

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

Managing Editor/Publisher, Financial Newswire

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26 days ago

ASIC has been smearing the advice profession for decades. Remember their REP413 investigation into life insurance advice? They deliberately targeted suspected churners by using data on advisers with high volumes of new business, and then sold the outcome to the public as a representative sample. Disgusting behaviour from a regulator. This eroded trust throughout the community and among politicians.

John Wick
26 days ago
Reply to  Nuffyland

NO thorough investigation was done and simply relied on severely manipulated evidence provided. This financial planner thoroughly investigated the case and even hired his own independent expert to investigate the matter (another 2 independent expert was hired with the same opinion). This financial planner represented himself for 2 days against ASIC wanting to prove his innocence. When the truth was revealed, people involved in this matter including moved on 1 by 1. THEY were against 1 financial planner.

ASIC should re-open the case and properly investigate the financial planner they crucified (lost their houses, savings and nearly lost his family and suffered significant distress through this experience until now) for alleged churning of insurance products. Through some bogus complaint (manipulated information) regarding this financial planner, they alleged the financial planner churned insurance products and put his clients into an inferior product and claimed commissions from it (His superiors received the commissions as per evidence, not him). Turns out, this financial planner had no choice to represent himself at the AAT (no funds to hire a lawyer or barrister, spent $400k), Evidence shows new life insurance products had more features and benefits and monthly premiums was significantly lower (signed transfer form provided as evidence was incorrect, different product). Materials was severely manipulated to make it look like this financial planner was a crook. This financial planner had no compliance breaches, 100 plus good character references from the community and industry & had all the awards, 3 independent experts was hired to investigate the matter and turns out there was no formal / verbal warning of any breaches and other financial planners were doing it and still practising. When the truth started to surface, executives and including ASIC delegate who ruined this financial planner’s life, retired/resigned and employed somewhere else. ASIC has ruined this person’s life including his family (I am sure ASIC staff have families themselves) by not investigating this matter thoroughly & properly, they simply relied on materials provided to them. Lastly, they alleged 49 client files was churned, however, when this financial planner, decided to represent himself and asked for the 49 client files so he can thoroughly investigate, he has only received 20 client files, until now remaining 29 files have not been presented. Information on the judgement states, “retraining & monitoring this financial planner was a better option considering the truth was revealed”. ASIC need to take accountability for their significant errors and apologise.

26 days ago
Reply to  John Wick


John Wick
17 days ago
Reply to  Actuary


Old Risky
26 days ago
Reply to  Nuffyland

Summed up precisely

Do better Asic
26 days ago

This individual at ASIC is the very person responsible for $1b of charging fees from BT and Westpac customers including dead peoples accounts then says this. Projecting and bias, also untrue entirely.

Stop trying to regulate on incorrect opinion and support positive change for the profession and Australians. No wonder the scammers and unlicensed are winning while we line the pockets of a regulator full of ex bank execs that have gravitated beyond their ignorance to impair and over regulate independent and client focused advisers, doing the right thing.

26 days ago

Just curious – when was the last time something nice was said about the financial advice profession in Canberra?

Why don’t they come and have a chat with my clients who are happy with the services supplied and have provided informed consent for my fees to be charged?

Canberra is rubbish. They can all jog on….

Last edited 26 days ago by Frank
26 days ago

I would love to hear more about this story and if the meeting was recorded?

ASIC prove it.
26 days ago

Let’s get the Minutes and or Recording of the meeting.
Freedom of information request please Financial Newswire.
And then we can see who is telling Lies?
ASIC, show us the minutes and the recording of the meeting please and prove it, if you say Peter Johnston / AIOFP’s allegations as not accurate.
ASIC prove it.

FAAA all...
26 days ago

The FAAA were there will they support the AIOFP like the members pay them to do, advocate for advice over choking regulation? Or will they do nothing advocate advice, pander to ASIC and product provider while stealing fees from advisers?

25 days ago

Standard fare for government bureaucrats. They treat the country they are meant to serve with contempt and view us as below them. Unfortunately neither Liberal or Labor has the fortitude, or intelligence, to sort them out. Voting for the Libertarian Party is the only option available to us if we want change.