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17-188MR ASIC permanently bans Perth financial adviser
ASIC has permanently banned Mr Robert Hutchison, of Lower Chittering in Western Australia, from providing financial services.
Mr Hutchison is a director of WAWM Investment Holdings Pty Limited and was an authorised representative of RI Advice Group Pty Ltd (RI Advice) between 14 May 2007 and 30 November 2012.
RI Advice is an Australian financial services licensee owned by OnePath, a subsidiary of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited.
An ASIC investigation found that between January 2011 and November 2012 Mr Hutchison dishonestly:
- banked cheques he received from his clients for advice fees directly into his personal bank account, when he knew he was obliged to remit or report them to RI Advice. Mr Hutchison then deducted additional fees from his clients’ investment platform or financial product for payment to RI Advice; and
- banked cheques he received from his clients for advice fees directly into his personal bank account and failed to record the receipt of the cheques on RI Advice’s payment system.
Mr Hutchison misled or deceived his clients by failing to disclose to them that they had been double charged advice fees and failed to comply with the proper process for remitting and reporting the fees. He also misled or deceived RI Advice by failing to disclose that he had deposited the advice fees into his own account and did not comply with RI Advice’s relevant fees policies and procedures.
ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell said, ‘ASIC will continue to protect consumers by removing people from the financial services industry who act dishonestly and breach the trust of their clients.’
Mr Hutchison has the right to appeal in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of ASIC’s decision.
Wealth Management Project
The banning of Mr Hutchison 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 part of its Wealth Management Project, ASIC has banned 31 advisers from the financial services industry, in addition to Mr Hutchison.
On 22 June 2017, Mr Hutchison lodged an application with the AAT for a review of ASIC's decision.
Editor's note 2:
On 7 September 2017, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal granted a stay of ASIC's decision until the Tribunal makes a final decision. The stay was granted on the condition that Mr Hutchison notify all current and future clients of ASIC's decision.
Editor's note 3:
On 18 September 2018, the AAT upheld an appeal by Mr Hutchison to set aside ASIC’s decision to permanently ban him from providing any financial services.