IOOF CEO Renato Mota

IOOF has committed to taking remedial action against its Bridges Financial Services and RI Advice licensees after an investigation by the corporate regulator revealed “deficiencies” with the groups’ supervision processes and the quality of advice provided.

According to the review, which concluded in December 2020 and involved separate samples of clients files, 15 per cent of Bridges’ files and 17 per cent of RI Advice files “contained indications of some potential client detriment”.

“In response to ASIC’s findings, IOOF has agreed to develop and implement remedial action plans for Bridges and RI Advice to address ASIC’s findings and concerns, including, where appropriate, client review and remediation programs…” an ASIC statement read.

Bridges is an IOOF-owned and operated ‘mass market’ dealer group with 144 advisers currently registered at ASIC, while RI advice is a self-employed ‘holistic’ advice group of 195 advisers that was picked up as part of the ANZ Wealth acquisition in 2018.

RI Advice has had a series of run-ins with ASIC under both the ANZ and IOOF banners.

In 2019 the regulator went to court against RI Advice and one of its licensed advisers, John Doyle, for providing “cookie cutter” advice – ASIC’s words – between 2013 and 2016, while RI Advice, then with ANZ,  “failed to take reasonable steps” to prevent this.

The Doyle case was used as a case study during the Hayne royal commission and is still ongoing.

In mid-2020 RI Advice was also taken to task by the regulator for not implementing “adequate policies, systems and resources” around its cyber-security after a hacker spent 155 hours logged into the server of RI Advice licensed Frontier Financial Group.

ASIC said it will review the progress of IOOF’s remedial action plans after each phase is finalised and consider whether further regulatory action is required.

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