ASIC commissioner warns about “dodgy spruikers” in SMSF property market

Spruikers that promote investing in property through self-managed superfunds (SMSFs) remain a major concern for ASIC.

“We don’t want this to become the new playground for dodgy spruikers,” warned ASIC commissioner Peter Kell on the ABC’s The Business this week as part of a special report into the “stampede into property by self-managed super funds”.

Kell said spruikers were encouraging people to set up SMSFs to invest in property in ways “that may be completely inappropriate for the investor and they’re not explaining the risks and the issues involved in investing in some of these areas”.

The Business special report named a number of businesses ASIC is “concerned about” including recently banned Melbourne-based property and finance firm Money Choice and its director Matthew George, Queensland-based Active Super, an unnamed Gold Coast company making 22,000 cold calls a week and prominent property investment firm ParkTrent, which promotes its introductory free investment seminars lunches via flyers handed out on street corners.

Ronald Cross, CEO of Park Trent told the ABC it rejected the tag of “spruiker” saying it was an “icon” and that to call it anything other than a “business enterprise” was a “cheap shot”.

Kell’s comments follow a speech in April, in which he highlighted some cases investors where investors were given advice which was not tailored to their specific situation, or recommendations for insurance were “absent or inadequate”.

“Notably, we also found that investors were not warned about the very real risk of not having access to a statutory compensation scheme in the event of theft of fraud,” he said at the CPA Australia SMSF Conference.

“Going forward, this will be an area of focus for us. We expect to see advice providers warning investors about this risk.”

Also in April ASIC released a new guide ‘SMSFS – Improving the quality of advice given to investor’ and highlighting that SMSFs “represent the fastest growing superannuation sector in Australia, with $439 billion assets held by funds”.

“ASIC has ramped up its attention on a sector that is of growing importance to more Australian investors. We want to help ensure that we have a healthy SMSF sector,” Kell said.

In particular, he said ASIC was “concerned about the rise in aggressive advertisements pushing property purchases through SMSFs”.

“Where we see examples of unlicensed SMSF advice, or misleading marketing, we will be taking regulatory action,” he added.

This article first appeared on Property Observer.

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