Financial Planning
Former Westpac adviser ban upheld

ASIC's banning of a former Westpac financial adviser has been upheld by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Last July, the corporate regulator banned Jason Atkins from providing financial services for three years.

Perth-based Atkins provided advice to clients to establish a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) and use limited recourse borrowing arrangements to fund the purchase of real property.

ASIC's investigation found Atkins provided SMSF advice to clients that involved setting up and using limited recourse borrowing arrangements to fund the purchase of real property.

ASIC was concerned Atkins did not investigate or consider whether the strategy of investing in property through an SMSF would outperform his clients' existing superannuation fund and improve their retirement position.

At the time, ASIC decided Atkins failed to act in the best interests of the clients.

In upholding the ban, AAT senior member Michelle Evans said Atkins facilitated a "high-risk investment strategy for the clients whereby all of the clients were in a worse financial position than if they had done nothing and not followed his advice."

The clients were also left in the disadvantageous position of having a single property as the sole asset in their superannuation funds, leaving them in a precarious position, she said.

This may have been in the event the market dropped; the property was untenanted; or if the clients experienced cash flow problems, Evans added.

ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell said the banning should remind advisers that compliance with the best interest duty requires them to use their expertise to conduct a reasonable investigation into the financial products that may put the client in a better position - even if a client indicates they're interested in a particular strategy or product.

"The job of financial advisers is to help their clients by providing professional advice that leaves their clients in a better position, not to merely execute their clients' wishes, especially when those wishes are going to leave their clients in a worse financial position," he said.

Atkins is a former authorised representative of Magnitude Group, a subsidiary of Westpac from 11 May 2015 to 11 December 2015. Prior to that, he worked at AMP subsidiary Genesys Wealth Advisers.

Read more: ASICWestpacAdministrative Appeals TribunalJason AtkinsMichelle EvansPeter KellFinancial advice
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