Commissions: Are they all gone?

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The Australian Financial Review has raised concerns that advisers are being offered incentives to put their clients in SMSF property investments.

The article published on Friday said that advisers would be able to “double already ­generous fees and commissions from ­product providers” by also recommending property companies.

As everyone knows, commissions are now banned, but the AFR says that this ban does not apply to commissions from lenders.

Neil ­Kendall, managing director of ­Financial Rescue, a financial advisory complaints management service, is not sure that this is legal.

“I would suspect this hasn’t been thought through fully... This is only relatively new legislation but I’m not sure that financial advisers would legally be able to receive commission for those sorts of recommendations,” he said.

Kendall says that advisers should be "horrified" and encourages they go forward with extreme caution. He is concerned that the property investment surge in DIY super is creating a pre-packaged ‘McSuper’ fund that doesn’t take into account client circumstances.

“These are a pre-packaged solution that is rolled out to anybody who is prepared to take it…financial planners are required to provide advice that’s appropriate to the client – not to take packages and sell them to clients.”

For example, SuperShift is a company that arranges the loan and insurance, does the paperwork, puts together the legal structure and offers on-going administrative and legal service.

According to the AFR, an adviser can more than double “the commission” by referring their client to SuperShift Property, which is an affiliated property-related company also known as Investment One – Property Solutions.

“Using a $428,000 property with a $300,000 loan as an example, Sydney-based SuperShift pays advisers $5725 for recommending a client.”

FPA general manager for policy and conduct Dante De Gori says the confusion is that FoFA does not cover real estate, so technically, if a financial planner is a licensed real estate agent, then they can recommend property and still receive commissions, but that it is trying to draw a long bow.

“The reality is, 99% of advisers stay away from property developers because they’re bad news,” says De Gori.

He says that the initial job of advisers and accountants is to advise on setting up the SMSF, and the bigger concern is around those who are spruiking property and using it as a catalyst to get an SMSF.

“I think the target needs to be that protection for consumers about what the real intent is for that individual when promoting property for self-managed super, and those advisers that get mixed into this stuff, they need to be very careful about what they’re doing.

De Gori says that “technically speaking, FoFA and the Corporations Act cannot do anything about real estate…it could never have been targeted, so the implication that there’s a gap in FoFA because of this, is fundamentally wrong.”

You can read the full AFR article here.

  • Alan on 26/08/2013 12:18:55 PM

    Yes, about time property sellers/advisers/spruikers were properly licensed AND require Statements of Advice AND come under "acting in the the best interests" legislation. Otherwise I can smell another Storm Financial disaster coming on. And we need that like a hole in the head....

  • Innocent Observer on 26/08/2013 10:40:54 AM

    Referral payments are vastly different to commissions. As far as I'm aware, the advisers aren't recommending the clients invest in X or Y property, even if they do recommend property as an asset class in which the client should invest.

    Personally I find this to be a murky area inhabited by marketeers looking to sucker in unsuspecting, pre-qualified clients from advisers who don't know or understand enough about the property market to be able to make a judgement call.

    First step in the process is to regulate property as a financial product: it seems that some need regulation and liability to instil the sense of responsibility.

    ***Importantly this should also apply to the property spruikers who purposely (or through inexcusable ignorance) spread lies to peddle their trade

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