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Monday 1 July 2013

13-159MR BT to refund customers after review of fees disclosed and charged

BT Financial Group (BT) will refund customers after it discovered that some of its Wrap and SuperWrap customers have been paying adviser fees in excess of disclosed percentage ranges. In some cases, there was confusion around whether the percentage ranges disclosed represented the maximum adviser fees that could have been charged.

BT discovered the problem, self reported to ASIC of their own accord and have kept ASIC informed.

BT undertook a review to identify customers potentially impacted, and to ensure that they were compensated where appropriate. BT has also issued revised disclosure and put in place strengthened operational controls to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said: ‘One of ASIC's priorities is to work to ensure consumers can have confidence in their financial institutions. It is important financial services companies charge customers the fees they have advertised and disclosed, and where this hasn't occurred, we expect errors to be swiftly rectified.'

‘We have also written to all platform operators to remind them of their significant breach reporting obligations’. ASIC acknowledges the cooperative approach taken by BT in this matter. Since May 2013, BT has been contacting affected customers and, where appropriate, compensating them. BT’s review and remediation process continues. All customers affected will be advised of any compensation by August 2013. There is no need to lodge a claim, but customers who are concerned and want to discuss the matter can contact the BT Customer Relations team on 1800 812 600.

Background

BT Wrap and BT SuperWrap link a number of investments held by customers and provide consolidated custody, administration and reporting to customers. Normally, customers retain a financial adviser for the purposes of establishing and maintaining their account. The advisor and customer agree a fee for the adviser services and the customer authorises BT as the operator of the account to deduct from the account the fees payable to the financial adviser.

In this case, BT’s past Investor Guides and Product Disclosure Statements disclosed adviser fees that were expressed as percentage ranges. In some cases, there may have been confusion around whether the percentages represented the maximum adviser fees that could be charged. The review undertaken found that some consumers were charged adviser service fees in excess of the disclosed percentage ranges.

Last updated: 01/07/2013 12:00