Advice group in receivership amid growing complaints
An advice group that was previously under investigation by ASIC for poor SMSF advice has been placed in receivership, with a number of client complaints still outstanding relating to historical poor advice.
PwC Australia confirmed to ifa that it had been appointed as receivers and managers for the Anne St Partners group of entities in early February.
The group was previously in the spotlight in late 2013 after ASIC surveillance of its activities identified concerns around the appropriateness of advice provided to clients relating to the establishment of SMSFs.
The regulator had ordered Anne St Partners to engage an independent expert to review and monitor the firm’s compliance processes over an 18-month period.
Former Anne St authorised representative Daniel Logan was also banned by ASIC in 2017 after being found to have created false documents and appropriated client funds for his own personal use.
AFCA’s 2019 complaints data reveals the ombudsman received 15 complaints around the group over the course of the year, 12 of which progressed to case management status.
In the first half of 2019, Anne St Partners was one of the most complained about advice firms outside of the major institutions, with only the former MyPlanner Australia, Interprac and MyBudget receiving more complaints among the privately owned dealer groups.
A PwC spokesperson told ifa the firm had received a further three enquiries from former Anne St Partners customers since being appointed receivers for the advice group, which had also been directed to AFCA.
Banking misconduct victims advocacy firm SR Group had also floated a potential class action against Anne St Partners last year, but a spokesperson told ifa it did not proceed due to insufficient numbers of complainants and compensation restrictions around retrospective cases.
The advice group’s client book was purchased by AMP-licensed practice InvestBlue in September 2019, and the group said it had also referred on a number of historic complaints to the financial services ombudsman.
“We were aware there were advice issues stemming from a planner whom ASP had previously terminated, which were largely resolved prior to settlement, and we have only had two or three complaints from previous clients since then, that we’ve referred to the receivers and AFCA for resolution,” an InvestBlue spokesperson said.