ASIC cancels licence of wealth management firm and bans 2 advisers

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The Australian Financial Services Licence of a Tweed Heads-based firm has been cancelled.

On Tuesday (21 December), ASIC announced the news against United Wealth Group after it found “the operation of a one size fits all advice model and the use of generic reasons to support personal advice recommendations” meant the group failed to uphold efficient, honest and fair financial advice.

ASIC said it found United Wealth Group was issuing “misleading SOAs” by incorrectly disclosing administration fees payable by clients, failing to disclose the licensee’s association with a product provider and not properly disclosing the risks of a specific product recommendation.

The group also failed to take reasonable steps to ensure its representatives complied with financial services laws.

As well as the licence, ASIC announced that James Furnell – a director and authorised representative of United Wealth Group – and Adrian Summers – a director, authorised representative and responsible manager of United Wealth Group – had received bans of seven and five years, respectively.

Mr Furnell, who was a director until 23 April 2021, was found to have failed to act in his clients’ best interests by not conducting reasonable investigations of the product, failed to provide appropriate advice, and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, including not disclosing his association with a product provider.

Meanwhile, Mr Summers was found to have failed to disclose referral fees and misled clients in relation to product and ongoing contribution fees.

Both Mr Furnell and Mr Summers have the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the bans.

United Wealth Group’s licence cancellation is effective from 24 November 2021.