A Gold Coast-based accountant has entered into an enforceable undertaking not to provide financial services for three years after being pinned for failing to act in the best interest of her clients by the corporate regulator.
ASIC has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Jenan Thorne, director of Saber Group, in relation to advice she provided to clients establishing self-managed super funds (SMSFs).
The regulator cottoned on to Thorne’s business dealings when investigating another firm, Trent Properties Group, deciding to take a closer look when it found she was receiving referrals for SMSF clients.
Following a review, ASIC found Thorne was “inappropriately scoped advice” by excluding insurance and retirement planning when recommending SMSFs to clients.
“Thorne did not adequately stress-test SMSF strategies and had recommended SMSFs to some of her clients despite inadequate evidence to suggest that the strategies would provide increased retirement benefits,” ASIC said in a statement on Tuesday.
It was also alleged Thorne recommended SMSFs to clients without taking their circumstances into account when she was working for SMSF Advice Pty. Ltd. — a wholly owned subsidiary of AMP Limited.
Saber Group contains both a superannuation and accounting practice arm. ASIC also found Thorne was generating revenue from referring clients over to her accounting practice for annual accounts and tax services.
Thorne is prevented from providing financial advice until February 13, 2022, and as part of the enforceable undertaking has agreed to inform all her personal advice clients about the case.
“Financial advisers have a legal obligation to provide advice that is in the best interests of their clients, not prioritise their own interests or simply implement client instructions. ASIC will continue to take action when advisers or AFS licensees don’t comply with the law,” ASIC commissioner Danielle Press said in a statement.
The penalty comes amid an ASIC crackdown following the banking royal commission.
Figures published by the corporate regulator yesterday reveal since February 2018 there has been a 15% increase in the number of ASIC enforcement investigations underway.
There has been a 50% increase in enforcement investigations of misconduct by large financial institutions.
SmartCompany contacted Jenan Thorne for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.
This article was updated on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.