ASIC bans former SMSF financial adviser

A former financial adviser has been permanently banned by ASIC for failing to provide appropriate advice on property to SMSF clients.

Nicholas Hunter has been permanently banned from the industry following an investigation by ASIC into his conduct in advising SMSF clients.

According to ASIC, Mr Hunter contravened financial services laws and is bankrupt.

Mr Hunter was an authorised representative of various financial services licensees dating back to 2002, and his most recent appointment was with Spring Financial Group Pty Ltd between May 2011 and June 2012.

The investigation by ASIC revealed Mr Hunter advised a number of SMSF clients to directly invest their SMSF in property during 2012.

“In doing so, he failed to make adequate inquiries into the clients' existing financial circumstances, including their existing SMSF portfolio and investment strategy, and did not give advice appropriate to the clients,” ASIC said in a public statement.

ASIC said Mr Hunter was selling the properties on behalf of a Queensland property development company, MOGS Pty Ltd (in liquidation), and collecting commission of between $10,000 and $25,000 per sale.

The investigation also found Mr Hunter was involved in the issue of falsified Westpac finance letters to MOGS to facilitate payment of his commissions and that he failed to issue the SMSF clients with financial services guides and statements of advice.

ASIC said he also operated a financial services company website when not licensed or authorised and provided financial advice to several SMSF clients in 2012 when not licensed or authorised.

ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer said ASIC is focusing its attention on the SMSF sector since it is the fastest growing sector in the superannuation industry.

“The matter involving Mr Hunter highlights ASIC's concerns about the potential for direct property advice through SMSF to constitute financial advice. Further, the adviser must act in the best interests of the client in giving that advice,” said Mr Tanzer.

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