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BFCSA: Systemic rorting of financial system claims AMP linked adviser SMH

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Big company bias has rigged financial advice system, advisor tells Murray inquiry

Banking and Finance  Date  April 8, 2014

An AMP-linked adviser has warned the financial advice system is rigged against consumers because big companies have a bias towards pushing their own products.  This bias towards in-house products reduces competition and may result in savers paying over the odds for investment products, Rhys Wood, a director of financial planning at Elite Wealth Solutions, has argued.  In a damaging submission to the Murray Inquiry into Australia's financial system, Mr Wood says that the high costs of regulatory compliance have prompted many planners to obtain a practicing licence through a large institution, which in turn supplies products for advisers to recommend.

Queensland-based Elite Wealth Solutions is licensed by listed wealth company AMP.  "The most pressing issue within the advice industry is the existence of bias within the advice process," says Mr Wood in his submission.  "Given that many of these Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) holders are owned and operated by institutions that supply the financial products recommended to retail advice clients, AFSL holders develop approved product lists which virtually exclude all other products from providers who compete with the parent company," says Mr WoodThe claims are explosive given the insistence by the big banks and wealth companies that financial planners put their clients' interests before theirs and their employer's.  Mr Wood's submission also calls into questions advisers' support for efforts by the Coalition government to water down a set of tests that would be used to determine if planners are working in a client's best interest.  "As a result of systemic bias within AFSL holder organisations, clients are not recommended to use alternative financial products provided by a competitor regardless of any superior ability to meet the client's needs," says Mr Wood.


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