The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has banned Brisbane based financial adviser Christopher Ramsay from providing financial services for a period of five years for failing to act in the best interests of his clients, and giving advice that was not appropriate.
ASIC found that Mr Ramsay failed in his obligations when he provided advice to his Westpac and NAB-subsidiary GWM clients to switch their superannuation and insurance products. In some cases he failed to make appropriate inquiries to assess whether the clients’ existing products met the clients’ needs. In other cases, ASIC found that Mr Ramsay provided misleading information to support his recommendations for clients to switch products. For example, he included:
- misleading fee comparison tables in advice documents which suggested the recommended fund was cheaper than the clients’ existing fund, when either this was not the case, or Mr Ramsay was not comparing similar fee structures; and
- a misleading statement in an advice document which stated the client’s existing insurer did not offer income protection insurance, when it did.
As a consequence of Mr Ramsay’s failings, ASIC found that clients paid substantially more for some products than they had previously paid and had understood they would pay. In some cases the higher cost of products recommended significantly reduced the clients’ superannuation savings without the clients’ knowledge.
Mr Ramsay was:
- an employee representative of Westpac Banking Corporation from 2010 to 2015; and
- an authorised representative of GWM Adviser Services Limited, a company wholly owned by the National Australia Bank Limited from 2015 to 2017.
Mr Ramsay has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.
Mr Ramsay’s banning will be recorded on ASIC’s Financial Advisers Register.
ASIC’s MoneySmart website has useful information for clients of advisers to help them understand what to do if their adviser has been banned.
The banning of Mr Ramsay is part of ASIC’s Wealth Management Project. The Wealth Management Project was established in October 2014 to lift the standards of 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; and
- seeking regulatory outcomes, where appropriate, against licensees and advisers.
As part of its Wealth Management Project, ASIC has banned 42 advisers and one director from the financial services industry. Four adviser-bannings are the subject of appeals, with a further banning stayed pending the outcome of an appeal.