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14-297MR ASIC review prompts Equanimity into enforceable undertaking
ASIC has accepted an enforceable undertaking (EU) from a Gold Coast-based financial planning and property management company, Equanimity Concepts Pty Ltd (Equanimity), following an investigation.
ASIC was particularly concerned about Equanimity’s potentially misleading advertising of financing options for home loans.
From January 2012 to July 2014, Equanimity advertised on its website, YouTube and in numerous in-flight magazines and police journals that consumers could pay off their home loan in a very short amount of time. For example, one line read, ‘Pay off your 25 year home loan in less than 5 years.’
ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, ‘The need for credit finance advertising to be accurate cannot be stressed enough as anything misleading can create unrealistic expectations that may lead to poor financial decisions and, ultimately, consumers could end up in a dangerous debt spiral.’
ASIC’s investigation found that Equanimity’s compliance processes in terms of its advertising were unsatisfactory and may have breached consumer protection credit laws.
‘Consumers who may have comes across these ads may have been misled in Equanimity’s ability to help them pay back their home loan in a significantly reduced timeframe without incurring further debt,’ Mr Kell said.
‘Advertising of this nature will not be tolerated and ASIC will take swift action when confronted with false claims.’
Under the EU, Equanimity must appoint an independent consultant to review its compliance with consumer protection credit laws and proper advertising processes, and develop a plan to rectify any deficiencies identified by the expert. The independent expert will report regularly to ASIC over the next year on Equanimity’s implementation of the plan.
The advertismentss have been removed.
ASIC’s active monitoring of financial services and credit advertising has forced companies to change the way they go about selling themselves, including more than 10 this year. These include:
- National Australia Bank (NAB) (14-282MR)
- NAB’s UBank (refer: 14-235MR)
- Make it Mine Finance Pty Ltd (refer: 14-198MR)
- Esuperfund Pty Ltd (refer: 14-196MR)
- Your Super Accountant (refer: 14-195MR)
- Virgin Money (refer: 14-091MR)
- Wealth Within Ltd (refer: 14-075MR)
- Paid International Ltd (refer: 14-065MR)
- SuperHelp (refer: 14-051MR)
- Jeremy (WA) Pty Ltd (refer: 14-022MR)
- Media Super (refer: 14-001MR)
- a number of banks and mutual authorised deposit-taking institutions (refer: 13-325MR)
- Insure 247 Pty Ltd (refer: 13-291MR)
- Woolworths (refer: 13-177MR)
- HSBC (refer: 13-176MR and 12-73AD)
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (refer: 13-176MR and 12-03MR)
- GE Money (refer: 12-198MR)
- RAMS (refer: 12-153MR), and
- Bankwest (refer: 12-110MR).