Last week, ASIC announced that Interprac – a financial planning group aligned to the National Tax and Accountants Association (NTAA) – had agreed to “undertake a number of measures” in response to concerns raised following an investigation into its provision of SMSF advice.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser following the announcement, Interprac national compliance manager Michael Butler – who joined the group in April under the terms of the agreement with ASIC and is a former professional standards manager at the FPA – said the surveillance and subsequent changes are not being “seen as a negative”.
“We were happy to engage with the regulator: they have a job to do to restore public confidence and we support that wholeheartedly,” Mr Butler said.
“Would I prefer not to have had the press release issued? Of course. But in the scheme of things it’s not negative because anything that goes to improve the overall integrity of the business and the industry is a good thing.
“You either take these things as a negative or use them as an opportunity for valuable training and development and continuous self-improvement, and that’s what we have done.”
At the same time, Mr Butler rejected the suggestion that ASIC’s finding of “advice not being sufficiently tailored to the needs of each client” could be seen as evidence of ‘cookie-cutter advice’, explaining that Interprac’s advisers “operate a number of strategies rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach”.
ASIC’s surveillance covered “around 20” of Interprac’s 100-odd authorised representatives, with the concerns raised by ASIC limited to just five of those 20 advisers.
“When you look at some of the other enforcement actions in this space at the moment, ours is fairly mild,” Mr Butler said. “There was no enforceable undertaking.”