The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has imposed licence conditions on Guardian Advice after finding advice that lacked a reasonable basis or evidence the advice given was in the best interests of clients.
ASIC also stated that Guardian Advice, which is owned by Suncorp, did not have “adequate arrangements in place to ensure it was complying with its general obligations as an Australian Financial Services Licensee”.
The regulator stated it found Guardian Advice did not properly assess and monitor the competency of its adviser representatives to provide financial services.
It also stated that Guardian Advice did not have adequate measures to meet record keeping obligations and it did not respond adequately to identified breaches by its representatives.
ASIC Deputy Chairman Peter Kell stated these weaknesses meant “there was an ongoing risk that unsuitable advice could be provided by Guardian Advice and its authorised representatives”.
As a result Guardian Advice will appoint an ASIC-approved consultant for a period of two years to review compliance with its general licensee obligations and to develop a plan to address any shortcomings and report through to ASIC.
ASIC acknowledged Guardian Advice’s co-operation in dealing with its concerns but also stated there were ongoing inquiries and enforcement or regulatory actions would be taken against individual advisers where inappropriate advice was provided.
ASIC’s surveillance of Guardian Advice follows the appointment of former AAA Financial Intelligence Limited and AAA Shares Pty Ltd advisers in February 2013 after the cancellation of the latters’ licences.
The regulator said while it “was interested to ensure Guardian Advice had in place adequate monitoring and supervision processes to deal with these representatives” the surveillance was not solely focused on these representatives and it had conducted broad surveillance on a number of representatives and aspects of the Guardian Advice business.