Former Commonwealth planner banned for forging signatures

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ASIC has accused this former adviser of forging client signatures on numerous documents, amongst a litany of other allegations.

Ricky David Gillespie, of Southport, Queensland, who was a senior financial planner for Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited (CFPL) between 2006 and 2009, has now been banned from providing any financial services.

Following an investigation into his activities, ASIC found that, between 2008 and 2009, Gillespie:

  • failed to comply with financial services laws;
  • forged clients’ signatures on documents such as a direct debit request, transaction without advice documents, confidential fact finder and financial services guide receipts;
  • created false file notes;
  • engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in issuing financial product information in the form of a marketing letter which contained representations that were false or misleading;
  • provided advice to a client that was not appropriate in the circumstances; and
  • charged excessive fees.

“ASIC considers Mr Gillespie’s conduct to be serious. Mr Gillespie’s wrongdoing was not an isolated incident. Instead Mr Gillespie engaged in a series of conscious and deliberate acts designed to disguise and conceal his non-compliance with statutory requirements and policies put in place by CFPL,” said ASIC commissioner Peter Kell.

“ASIC will continue to take action and remove advisers who breach community trust.”

Noting that this is the latest of a string of enforcement actions against former CFPL financial advisers, ASIC has stated that this latest ban reflects its commitment to ensuring financial advisers meet required standards to maintain consumer confidence in the financial services system.

Six former CFPL financial advisers – Don Nguyen, Simon Langton, Christopher Baker, Anthony Awkar, Jane Duncan and Joe Chan – have already been subjected to permanent or temporary bans.

ASIC has already accepted an enforceable undertaking from CFPL – submitted in October 2011 – requiring the group to review its risk management framework and address deficiencies. Additionally, where clients are found to have been adversely impacted by the conduct of representatives, CFPL will consider the circumstances and appropriately remediate the client.

Most of Gillespie’s impacted clients have already been compensated by CFPL.

Gillespie has appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of ASIC’s decision. An order made by the AAT staying ASIC’s decision was lifted following a hearing by the AAT on 8 November 2012.

  • Daniel Boce on 12/11/2012 2:33:55 PM

    I notice 'Charged Excessive fee'? Why cant this be more of an issue for our industry. Especially entry fees charged on unknowing clients large rollovers. And the unethical reasoning of planners wanting to keep the $00K?...thats just the cost of advice!

  • Michael Langtry on 12/11/2012 4:40:16 PM

    Of course this sort of thing needs to be reported - but how about a bit of balance? Report also the outstanding good things that advisers do evry day as part of their work, as well as the the smaller number of bad things.

  • Stephen Varhegyi on 12/11/2012 5:07:48 PM

    Talk about excessive fees. A while back one of my accounting colleagues referred a woman to me who had been dealing with one of the advisers from a major bank. The woman had been acting on behalf of her mother who was over 90 and in a nursing home. The amount in question was $400,000. The bank advisers recommendation was to put the money into a cash option and a term deposit option through one of the banks mastertrust platforms. The initial fee was $4,000 and the ongoing fee was 1% p.a. ($4,000 p.a.) Furthermore the adviser told the client that she should set up a trust to invest the money on her mnother's behalf because "money held in a trust would be exempt from Centrelink means tests" (great training ay?). He would also assist with Centrelink paperwork. After the investments were placed she became very disenchanted with the adviser because she had difficulty contacting him. She asked me to write a letter to the bank for her asking for compensation/a refund of fees. I put together a spreadsheet itemising all the fees I thought should be reimbursed to compensate for the poor advice and overcharging. I charged her $440 for the hour interview and the two hours it took to prepare the letter/spreadsheet. She baulked a bit at paying me the $440. However the bank ended up refunding $8,000 in fees and placed the money in a standard CMA and Term Deposit (no initial or ongoing platform fees). This exercise illustrated how little clients understand about the fees they are being charged. The idea that she was quite willing to pay over the top fees for fairly rudimentary / and unsatisfactory advice but felt uneasy about my fee, even though I had saved her 20 times that was disturbing. I fear this is the new world of 'fee for service' we are moving into. People have been quite accepting of adviser remuneration via product commissions but are averse to paying 'fees'. It seems the industry will have to come up with new terminology, before getting paid for what you do is acceptable to some clients.

  • Hendrix on 3/06/2013 12:49:30 PM

    1. She probably balked at paying your $400 fee simply because at the time she was not aware she would receive her initial fees back.
    2. Regarding the standard CMA & Term deposit, was this invested with the same bank. If so I would still be very concerned as the initial adviser was one of their 'OWN'.
    I would have suggested it moved to another bank. Was any fee for service deducted for this new investment? If not then I agree she did get a good result.
    3. The reason Fee for Service is not being readily accepted is due to a number of reasons. Mostly because some of these fees are quite high compared to some of the older type commissions. For example I've noticed some of the older products charged a trail of between 0.25% - 0.50% which were never required to be included on a client statement. I've however seen some ongoing adviser service fees (the new trail) at up to 1.5% of the account balance which is 3-6 times higher than the old trail amounts. Other adviser fees are also much higher. As a client I would not be keen on paying such amounts to an adviser whom I may see every so often

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