A number of financial advisers slapped with a ban by the industry watchdog continue to self-promote online to potential clients, Professional Planner can reveal.
The corporate regulator announced last month a continued focus on protecting consumers from financial harm by clamping down on regulatory requirements in place for financial advisers.
A number of the advisers banned from practicing have been publicly shamed in the media, with ASIC issuing media releases in high profile cases.
“In the [December quarter] last year, we commenced a number of significant enforcement and regulatory actions to address misconduct, market integrity threats and consumer harms in sectors including financial services, retail and crypto assets,” ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court said in a media release in February.
“This includes corporate governance and directors’ duties, product design and distribution and misleading statements involving sustainable finance practices.”
This month, ASIC announced that Sydney-based Bluepoint Consulting financial adviser Todd Karamian had been banned from providing financial services and carrying on a financial services business after he falsified his financial adviser exam result.
ASIC identified Karamian’s conduct through a proactive review of individuals who were listed as current financial advisers that had not passed the exam.
ASIC found that Karamian provided personal advice between 31 December 2021 to 9 September 2022 to 11 retail clients when he was not authorised to do so as he had failed the financial adviser exam.
ASIC issued a media statement about Karamian’s ban, which stated that “he is not competent and is not a fit and proper person to provide financial services”. His ban is also recorded on ASIC’s banned and disqualified register.
Despite this, Karamian, who has been at Bluepoint Consulting since 2002, is still listed as a director of the company on the company website. His email address also remains under his profile, meaning potential clients could make contact.
The ASIC ban not only prevents Karamian from providing financial services, but also from controlling an entity that carries on a financial services business and performing any function involved in carrying on a financial services business.
ASIC’s media office confirmed that Karamian has 28 days from the date the order was made to seek a review of the banning decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Professional Planner sought comment from Bluepoint Consulting director Tony Bates, who did not want to make a statement about the situation other than to say that the company will continue to work cooperatively with ASIC.
In separate action, ASIC has also suspended the licence of Global Pacific Solutions Group for three years. It found that Global Pacific failed to ensure that the financial services it provided were done so efficiently, honestly and fairly as a result of the conduct of sole director, Douglas Allen.
In particular, Allen was using a layered advice strategy and ASIC found that he provided advice that was not in the clients’ best interests and wasn’t appropriate, and that he made false or misleading statements.
The suspension order took effect from 15 March 2022. Prior to his involved in Global Pacific, Allen was a representative of Smart Solutions Group. The director of Smart Solutions, Tim Shapter, was also banned and had his licence cancelled by ASIC in February 2020.
Despite this, at the time of writing Allen’s LinkedIn profile remains visible online, lising him as an ASFL owner.
It’s not suggested that Allen is still carrying on a financial services business, but at the time of writing his LinkedIn profile continues to identify him as an AFSL owner.
The AFSL for Capital Capital was also cancelled by ASIC on the basis that it had failed to meet its financial reporting obligations, and yet at the time of writing its website remains active, inviting potential clients to get in touch for an appointment.
ASIC also banned Antonio Simeone from providing financial services for five years in August 2022. The ban follows an ASIC investigation, which found that Simeone engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct when he recommended and facilitated the illegal early release of superannuation.
Simeone had recommended that clients who were under financial pressure roll over their super fund to a SMSF and invest in Administrative Incentivised Management Systems, which Simeone is a director.
While his website appears to have been removed, his LinkedIn profile remains public, stating that “to complement our holistic and integrated financial services practice, we established Simeone Accounting & Tax” in 2011. The company remains listed as currently operating and Simeone remains listed as the managing director.
It raises questions about whether ASIC’s protection measures go far enough given that financial advisers have not been ordered to remove their online profile.
ASIC confirmed it is currently responding to 12 appeal applications for review from financial services banning decisions.
Professional standards have applied to financial advisers since January 2019, including the requirement to pass the FASEA exam before 1 January 2022 (or 1 October 2022 for those eligible for an extension) to continue to provide personal advise to retail clients on relevant financial products.