Product flogging still a problem in financial advice

After all of the scandals, inquiries, reviews and new laws and regulations it's surprising the extent to which financial planners employed by or aligned with the big four banks and AMP flog their employers' superannuation funds and other financial products to punters.

Most financial planners are aligned with or employed by one of the big banks or AMP, which "manufacture" their own financial products on which these institutions generate fee revenue.

The report by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission shows institutions do have many more "external" financial products listed on their "approved lists" of products.

However, this appears to be largely to give the illusion that the planner can select the most suitable financial product from a wide range of providers.

Although there are exceptions at some of the advice firms owned by the institutions, ASIC's report shows that financial advisers at the big banks continue to recommend the products of their employers, sometimes regardless of investment merit.

ASIC looked at the files where superannuation advice was provided during 2015 to 2017.

In 10 per cent of the sample advice files where the recommendation was to invest in an in-house super fund, ASIC found significant concerns about the impact of the non-compliant advice on the customers' financial situation.

ASIC does not say so, but some of these recommendations were probably to switch from high-performing industry super funds to poorer-performing retail funds.

The regulator was also concerned that the advice-seeker was being switched to a super fund with inferior insurance arrangements or higher fees, or both.

This reluctance to not always put the interest of the advice-seeker first is surprising given the number of times the regulator has found similar problems in its shadow shops and reports going back almost 20 years.

The most recent was the shadow shop released in March 2012 of planners giving retirement advice.

In one-quarter of the advice samples, inappropriate financial products were recommended.

The regulator notes some improvements in the practices of the advice licensees and their advisers, compared with what it found in it previous surveillance work.

Many consumers are likely to choose to seek advice from a big bank or AMP because of the supposed comfort of a big brand.

But no one wants recommendations that preferences the interests of the institution employing the adviser over their own and which leaves them worse off.

This story Product flogging still a problem in financial advice first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.