ASIC announced that has permanently banned Perth man, David Fong, from providing financial services and engaging in credit activities after it was found that he acted dishonestly in the course of providing financial services and failed to comply with the ‘best interests’ duty.
Mr Fong was an authorised representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd (AMP) from 1 January 2004 to 22 December 2014. He was a credit representative of AMP from 1 July 2010 to 22 December 2014.
Mr Fong provided financial advice to a large number of clients on superannuation and insurance. ASIC was concerned about Mr Fong’s advice processes including the manner in which he narrowed the subject matter or scope of the advice he provided to clients, the manner in which he arranged for the completion of client paperwork and the integrity of the records Mr Fong retained pertaining to the financial services he provided.
ASIC decided to ban Mr Fong permanently after finding that he:
- engaged in dishonest conduct relating to client records and applications for financial products;
- provided advice to clients that did not comply with the best interests duty, was not appropriate and did not leave them in a better position having received the advice.
In respect of dishonest conduct, the ASIC delegate noted that Mr Fong’s dishonestly was not confined to a single event or client and is illustrative of a person who has a fundamental lack of honestly and professionalism. On this basis, ASIC has reason to believe that Mr Fong is not of good fame or character.
Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said:
Consumers trust their financial advisers to act with honesty, integrity and professionalism. Financial advisers who are dishonest and take advantage of that trust for their own commercial benefit have no place in the financial services sector. ASIC will take appropriate actions to remove individuals who do not meet the standards expected by the Australian public and required by the law.
ASIC’s investigations into this and related matters is ongoing. AMP has in place a remediation program for clients who received financial advice from Mr Fong that breached the law and as a result caused them financial loss.
Mr Fong has the right to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.
The banning of Mr Fong is a result of ASIC’s Wealth Management Project.
The Wealth Management Project was established in October 2014 with the objective of lifting standards by major financial advice providers. The Wealth Management Project focuses on the conduct of the largest financial advice firms (NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, Macquarie and AMP).
ASIC’s work in the Wealth Management Project covers a number of areas including:
- working with the largest financial advice firms to address the identification and remediation of non-compliant advice;
- seeking regulatory outcomes, where appropriate, against licensees and advisers.
As a result of ASIC’s Wealth Management Project, 33 advisers have now been banned from the industry (including Mr Fong) and a further three advisers have agreed to bans under Enforceable Undertakings entered into with ASIC.