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Australia's ASIC fines financial advisory firm for misleading claims about offering 'independent advice'

Publish date: 10 May 2019
Issue Number: 70
Diary: CompliNEWS
Category: Enforcement

HostPlus Pty Ltd (HostPlus) was fined a $12,600 Infringement Notice penalty, according to a release on the Australian Securities & investments Commission's (ASIC) website. The Infringement Notice related to alleged misleading claims about offering 'independent advice' in a recorded telephone message on HostPlus’ main consumer telephone number.

HostPlus is based in Melbourne and is licensed to provide financial services and act as trustee of specified superannuation funds.

From at least July 2016 to late March 2018, the recorded telephone message referred to a free consultation available to members with an Industry Fund Services Limited (IFS) licensed financial planner. It then referred to the advice as ‘independent’.

Following a complaint, ASIC investigated whether the telephone message contained a misleading representation that the advice service available to HostPlus members was ‘independent advice’. ASIC was concerned that HostPlus and IFS were not independent of each other because HostPlus employees were appointed as authorised representatives to provide financial advice under IFS’ Australian financial services licence, HostPlus paid service fees to IFS for adviser services and at the relevant time, HostPlus was a shareholder of IFS’ ultimate holding company.

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By Lee Rossini

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