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Tuesday 16 April 2019

19-093MR Queensland financial adviser banned for five years

ASIC has banned Queensland-based adviser Gregory Forster from providing financial services for a period of five years after a surveillance showed he provided inappropriate advice to clients and failed to act in their best interests.

ASIC's surveillance looked at advice Mr Forster provided to clients while he was an authorised representative of Australian financial services (AFS) licensees Breakaway Finance Group and ANZ-owned Millenium 3.

The surveillance found that Mr Forster had failed to take into account his clients' actual circumstances when providing advice; instead he obtained limited information and made a series of assumptions about their personal circumstances. Furthermore, he recommended new superannuation and insurance products to his clients without considering their existing products and services.

In many cases, Mr Forster recommended insurance where the premiums were unaffordable. Even though the premiums were paid out of his clients’ superannuation, sometimes they were significantly more than his clients’ normal superannuation contributions, potentially leading to erosion of the clients’ superannuation balance. ASIC found that Mr Forster had made those recommendations even though the clients had originally sought his advice because they were unhappy with their superannuation balance.

Mr Forster had also significantly understated the costs associated with implementation of his advice, particularly costs associated with running a self-managed super fund (SMSF). ASIC found that the true costs of running the recommended SMSF were significantly higher than disclosed to the client.

In some other cases, ASIC also found that Mr Forster had not complied with the requirements for a Statement of Advice (SOA) – instead of disclosing the dollar value of fees, he had described fees in percentage terms.

The banning of Mr Forster is part of ASIC's ongoing efforts to improve standards across the financial services industry. It will be recorded on ASIC's  publicly available Financial Advisers Register and on Banned and Disqualified Persons Register

ASIC expects financial advisers to adequately understand their clients’ personal circumstances and take those circumstances into consideration when providing personal advice. When recommending that clients dispose of or acquire financial products, advisers must fully disclose the costs associated with their advice so that clients can make informed decisions.

Advisers have a legal obligation to prioritise their clients’ interests and to comply with the best interests duty when providing personal advice. ASIC will continue to take action where advisers don’t comply with the law.

ASIC's MoneySmart website has useful information for consumers whose advisers have been banned.

Background

Mr Gregory Forster was an authorised representative of:

  • Breakaway Finance Group from 1 July 2012 to 31 October 2014, and
  • Millenium 3 from 31 October 2014 to 21 December 2018.

The banning of Mr Forster is part of ASIC's Wealth Management Project, which focuses on the conduct of Australia’s largest financial advice licensees – NAB, Westpac, CBA, ANZ, Macquarie and AMP.

As part of its Wealth Management Project, ASIC has banned 53 advisers and one director from the financial services industry. Five bannings are the subject of appeals.

In 2017, ASIC entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with Mr Forster’s former Licensee, Breakaway Finance, which required Breakaway to cancel its AFS licence (REFER: 18-007MR).

Editor's note:

Mr Forster may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.

Last updated: 16/04/2019 12:00