Advisers anonymous: How to report dodgy dealings

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Financial planners may find themselves questioning the work of another planner – or any professional – at times. At such a moment, it would be beneficial to have a regulator check the facts, without getting caught up in the crossfire.

However, one financial planner found that it is not so simple. The planner, who wished to remain anonymous, says he complained to ASIC about a suspicious accountant two months ago…and still hasn’t heard back.

 “I reported it to ASIC two months ago and they said they would send me some links to put all the information on a complaint form, but I didn’t want to make an official complaint. I just wanted them to know about the matter.”

The ‘matter’, was that a client had been recommended an SMSF, when it did not seem right for his needs.

The planner claims he never heard back following the initial phone call. The fact that he believed at the time that he would have to attach his name and contact details to an official complaint meant he opted not to submit one, since he feared he’d be dragged into a potential court case.

“You just think that ASIC should have a streamlined process and take it on board. All they’re interested in is sending you a link to make an official complaint and I don’t want to make an official complaint. You have to attach your name to it.”

Given the influx of reader complaints regarding ASIC’s, complaints process, we decided to approach them ourselves, asking for an explanation of options when it comes to reporting potential cases misconduct – particularly if an adviser doesn’t want his/her name on the complaint.

While ASIC wasn’t able to provide comment on the above case – and was unwilling to offer an estimate of how long it should take for an individual case to be dealt with, a spokesman said that some of the above statements are the result of misinformation.

For instance, he says the belief that complaints must include the name and contact details of the issuer is untrue – though it can limit the amount of communication ASIC provides.

“We keep all reports of misconduct lodged with us confidential. People can lodge reports with us anonymously, if they wish. We may be limited in what information we can provide back to anonymous reporters, and it will depend on the anonymous reporter giving us some contact detail information.”

As a matter of process, says the spokesperson, ASIC doesn’t take the details of misconduct over the phone, such as through calls to the call centre or receptions.

“People on our call centre or reception will advise callers that they should lodge the report online. If a misconduct reporter requires assistance to lodge a report with us online, (e.g. are unable to use a computer or may have a physical disability etc) we will attempt to provide the assistance.”

“We encourage people who believe they have evidence of a breach of a law we administer to lodge a misconduct report with us online,” says the spokesman. “They can do so at www.asic.gov.au/complain.”