Advice firm convicted of hawking breaches
National Advice Solutions has been convicted of hawking in relation to superannuation roll over calls.
On 20 February 2023, National Advice Solutions appeared at the Southport Magistrates Court in Queensland and pleaded guilty to one charge of breaching anti-hawking laws, following which the court imposed a penalty of $70,000.
According to a statement issued by ASIC, between August 2019 and June 2020, National Advice Solutions made unsolicited calls to consumers encouraging them to roll over their superannuation into different superannuation products. The company then charged an initial fee for the rollover as well as ongoing fees.
“Australians work hard to build up their super. Unsolicited calls can convince consumers to make decisions on their super that they didn’t plan to make or don’t suit their needs,” said ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court.
“Reforms to the anti-hawking regime were in response to clear consumer harm when it came to the unsolicited calls involving financial products. ASIC strongly advocated for these reforms and will continue to pursue action in the court where we see a disregard for these laws,” concluded Ms Court.
The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions after an investigation and referral by ASIC.
In December 2022, the corporate regulator cancelled the Australian Financial Services licence of National Advice Solutions and banned two Gold Coast-based responsible managers, Gail Glasby and Paul Carcallas from providing financial services for a period of 10 years.
Reforms to the anti-hawking regime were made under the Financial Sector Reform (Hayne Royal Commission Response) Act 2020, which commenced on 5 October 2021, and were designed to tackle consumer harms arising from consumers being approached with unwanted products through cold-calls or other unsolicited contact.
ASIC explained that the current charges were brought under the previous anti-hawking provisions because they relate to conduct that allegedly took place prior to 5 October 2021.