SMSF adviser banned for four years following ASIC survey of SMSF advice

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ASIC has banned an SMSF adviser for four years and suspended a financial services licence, following from a broader review of SMSF advice.

Late in June ASIC said it had found around 90% of SMSF set-up advice didn’t comply with relevant laws, and 10% was likely to leave clients significantly worse off. At the time ASIC said it would be taking regulatory action as a result.

ASIC has now banned Queensland financial adviser James Cribb from providing financial services for four years, and suspended his Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) – held by Mode AFSL Pty Ltd – for 10 weeks.

ASIC said that it found Mr Cribb had failed to act in the best interests of his clients when providing advice on SMSFs.

“ASIC found that Mr Cribb prioritised his own interests over those of his clients by providing advice that was likely to benefit other entities related to him, including an SMSF administration business for which he was the sole director and a shareholder.”

The regulator found that Mr Cribb had failed to investigate the individual circumstances of his clients and failed to adequately investigate alternative strategies and products that may have been suitable for his clients’ objectives.

Mr Cribb was an authorised representative of Axis Investment Centre Pty Ltd from 9 August 2010 to 14 August 2017. A number of client files for advice given by Mr Cribb when he was a representative of Axis were included in the representative sample of ASIC’s survey.

“ASIC subsequently commenced a targeted surveillance on Mr Cribb to test a larger sample of advice he had provided whilst he was an authorised representative of Axis and Mode.”

Mr Cribb and Mode AFSL Pty Ltd have a right to appeal ASIC’s decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

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