ASIC found that Mr Nguyen had dishonestly backdated advice documents to clients, incorrectly witnessed binding nomination of beneficiary forms, created or modified documents on client files produced to ASIC and attempted to induce a client to mislead ASIC.
ASIC also found that Mr Nguyen had further engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by allowing the incorrectly witnessed binding nomination forms to be submitted to insurers on behalf of two of his clients. He had also failed to comply with a financial services law by implementing financial advice to four clients before they were provided with a statement of advice.
ASIC Commissioner Danielle Press said, “Financial advisers have a critical role to play in helping consumers make confident and informed decisions about financial products. They have an obligation to act in the best interests of their clients when providing advice and must adhere to ethical standards and conduct themselves with honesty and professionalism. ASIC will continue to take action where the conduct of financial advisers is inadequate”.
ASIC found that Mr Nguyen is likely to contravene a financial services law for reasons including that he had engaged in dishonest conduct while he was an authorised representative of GWM Adviser Services Limited, and continued to do so while he was an authorised representative of InterPrac Financial Planning. Moreover, he acted dishonestly in the course of responding to an ASIC statutory notice.
Mr Nguyen’s banning will be recorded on ASIC’s publicly available Financial Advisers Register, which consumers can access to check the qualifications and credentials of financial advisers.
ASIC expects financial advisers to comply with the law and adhere to ethical standards when providing financial product advice to consumers. Financial advisers have an obligation to provide clients with a statement of advice (where one is required) before implementing the advice on their behalf. They are required to keep proper records and ensure binding nomination of beneficiary forms are properly witnessed.
ASIC’s MoneySmart website has useful information for clients whose advisers may have been banned.
Since approximately July 2005, Mr Nguyen has operated a financial services business through his company, Financial Wealth Advisers Pty Ltd. He has been an authorised representative of:
- Charter Financial Planning Limited (a subsidiary of AMP) from 1 July 2005 to 13 December 2011;
- GWM Adviser Services Limited (a subsidiary of NAB) from 6 December 2011 to 4 August 2015; and
- InterPrac Financial Planning Pty Ltd from 5 August 2015.
The banning of Mr Nguyen is part of ASIC’s Wealth Management Project, which was established in October 2014 to lift the standards of major financial advice providers. The project focuses on the conduct of the largest financial advice firms ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac, AMP and Macquarie.
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-compliance advice; and
- seeking regulatory outcomes where appropriate against licensees and advisers.
As part of its Wealth Management Project, ASIC has banned 51 advisers and one director from the financial services industry. Six of the bannings are the subject of appeals.