Hot topic of the week….

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There was uproar this week thanks to a story that revealed that ASIC were investigating complaints about a controversial Industry SuperFund (ISF) advertising campaign.

The “compare the pair” campaign was initially launched - and subsequently pulled due to a barrage of complaints - in 2005. It’s now been re-done and re-angled, yet the complaints accusing the advertisement of being misleading keep on coming.

The vast majority of you agreed that the campaign was misleading and deceiving, and ASIC are right to investigate it.

Melinda Houghton said apart from being selectively compared “rubbish”, the statistics noted in the campaign are meaningless: “We could all make the stats say what we want them to, aren't we always told ‘past performance is not an indicator of future performance?’"

The comparison needs to be apples with apples, said Good Advice, while Adviser B said the information had been cherry picked: “ISF's don't have adviser fees because they don't want their clients to have financial advisers. It has been proven time and time again that people who get financial advice are better off than those who never get advice and have no idea what they are doing.”

Phil said he was highly frustrated about the complaints process through the ASIC website after trying to make a complaint against ISF due to his perceived non-disclosure on an advertisement that appeared on the website.

“I went straight to ASIC's website to make a complaint only to get forwarded to APRA, whom then forwarded me onto ACCC who are yet to contact me. I would love to see how quickly ASIC would come down on me personally as an adviser if I was to put that exact same statement on the front of my website, in my SoA's and when I am introducing myself,” he said.

With the proliferation of SMSFs, mFunds on the ASX, and the return of the ISA ads, the industry will pay for its short-sightedness in not supporting advisers who have supported retail product, said Michael.

Ben CFP said he wanted to see ASIC take action, fine the IFS for the campaign, and make them publicly apologise: “Typical industry fund propaganda! Let's work out our best results and compare them to the worst result from a retail fund and then hammer the TV with it. Oh by the way, who is paying for these advertisements? Surely not the investor!”

However to discredit the campaign you need to first discredit the research, said Tash.

Thanks to all of our contributors this week. Read more comments and the story here.
  • Adviser B on 7/04/2014 11:10:20 AM

    Exactly. The data that shows those who receive financial advice are better off is a lot more prevalent, accurate, unbiased and sound, and across many countries, than the cherry picked funds and comparisons used by ISA. The positive impact of financial advice is also a LOT more profound.

    A campaign could be run to 'compare the pair', where one person invests in an ISA fund and refuses financial advice in line with the ISA message, versus someone who receives financial advice.

  • Innocent Observer on 7/04/2014 10:04:33 AM

    Given that we're operating in one of the most regulated professions in the country, it seems incredible that ISA have got away for this for so long.

    But anyway. If it's "compare the pair" you want, then I think it's fair to say that in nearly every case someone who has sought advice will end up miles ahead of someone who doesn't. Every piece of research on the value of advice (both in Australia and the UK) that I have read has found that those who seek advice end up (somewhere in the order of) $1,700 - $2,100 p.a. better off….at 5% p.a. that's $250k more over the course of the average worker's career. Sadly this message has been lost.

    Also, if we really want to compare the pair, why is it that most clients under the age of 45 who are with a certain (large and prominent) ISA fund are paying between 50% and 120% more for insurance than we can get them through one of those *evil* commission-paying retail insurance products?

  • Mark Thompson on 4/04/2014 9:48:36 AM

    I'm all for a public a apology paid for by the ISA.

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