Since the establishment of its SMSF Taskforce in 2004 and in the wake of the Trio collapse, ASIC has committed to targeting misleading SMSF advertising.
ASIC is now looking to expand its supervision beyond print media and radio, and will be focusing on digital channels such as Twitter and YouTube, said ASIC senior executive leader, financial advisers, Joanna Bird at the AIOFP national conference in Sydney last week.
ASIC is also looking to specifically target SMSF-related seminars for evidence of misleading or deceptive conduct.
“We're also strengthening our consumer messaging around the suitability of SMSFs and the hard-sell tactics in the SMSF market at the moment,” Ms Bird said.
Ms Bird reiterated ASIC’s continuing focus on property promoters who are targeting the SMSF sector.
“ASIC is aware that there has been a sharp rise in operators recommending investors set up or use an existing SMSF to invest in real property. Promoters of those investments may not be complying with the law if they're not licensed,” she said.
“We work quite closely with the real estate institute at both a national and state level to help educate real estate agents that if they are directly providing advice through SMSFs in relation to the acquisition of real property, it's arguable that they're providing financial product advice and either need to be licensed or authorised by a licensee.”
Ms Bird noted ASIC recently commenced legal proceedings against Park Trent, a business that promotes the use of an SMSF to purchase investment property.
ASIC is alleging and seeking declarations that Park Trent is carrying out a financial services business without an AFSL, Ms Bird said.
“ASIC understands that Park Trent has advised about 500 members of the public to establish SMSFs and switch funds into an SMSF. Those funds are then used to purchase investment properties that are owned or promoted by Park Trent,” she said.