The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has revealed it received around 70 reports from the public expressing concern about real estate agents referencing the ability of tenants and other to obtain early access to their superannuation.
The regulator has revealed that, in the first instance, it became aware of the real estate agents’ activity via a staff member who received a letter from an agent and via social media.
Answering a question on notice from the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, ASIC said that “between 3 April, 2020, and 7 April, 2020, ASIC received approximately 70 reports of misconduct from members of the public”.
However, the regulator said that it had not yet decided to take action with respect to those reports.
Explaining how it had come to write a letter warning real estate agents about giving advice around early release super, ASIC said that before its letter dated 3 April, 2020, “an ASIC member of staff initially flagged a letter they had received from their real estate agent about applying for the early release of superannuation funds to meet rental payments, if they were experiencing financial difficulty”.
“ASIC also received one report of misconduct from a member of public raising similar concerns,” it said. “ASIC’s review of twitter had indicated early concerns being identified by tenants of messaging from agents on behalf of landlords.”
“ASIC is unable to provide copies of the correspondence received by the ASIC staff member or the report of misconduct received from the member of the public as this material was received in confidence,” ASIC said.
“Further, on 1 April, 2020, ASIC received a letter from Mr Stephen Jones MP expressing concern about unqualified financial advice being given by real estate agents that may not be in the best interests of individuals.”
Jones is the shadow Assistant Treasurer and his letter urged ASIC to issue a warning to real estate agents.