After suspending the Australian Financial Services (AFS) license of Financial Options Pty Ltd in August of last year, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced this Tuesday that it has now canceled the company’s license.
Today, the regulator revealed that the firm hadn’t complied with its financial requirements and hadn’t taken the necessary steps to address ASIC’s concerns in relation to organizational competence, human resources, and compliance requirements. All of this led to the canceling of the license.
ASIC permanently bans Jack Houwing
Furthermore, the Australian watchdog also revealed that it has permanently banned William John Henry Houwing (known as Jack Houwing), a Queensland-based financial adviser, from providing financial services.
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Houwing was a director and authorized representative of Financial Options. Between August 31, 2006, and May 15, 2009, ASIC found that he arranged for his clients to lend money to his related entities, including Belbrooke Pty Ltd as trustee for the Belbrooke Administration Trust, Belbrooke Pty Ltd as trustee for the Belbrooke Mortgage Trust; and Ochkit Pty Ltd as trustee for the Houwing Family Trust.
In the statement released today, the Aussie regulator said it found that Houwing:
- failed to act in the best interests of his clients by recommending that they allow their self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF) to lend money to his related entities, particularly in circumstances where he failed to recommend that they obtain their own independent advice;
- arranged loans from clients for his own use, and in some cases, benefited when he failed to repay the loans on time;
- had a conflict of interest as both a financial adviser and the recipient of the loans, and failed to prioritize the interests of his clients over his own interests;
- is not adequately trained or competent to provide financial services; and
- is not of good fame or character.
Commenting on the announcement, ASIC Commissioner, Danielle Press said in the statement: “The failure of financial advisers to act in the best of interests of their clients or to prioritise their clients’ interests over their own, not only harms their clients but also erodes public trust in the financial system. ASIC expects financial advisers to uphold the values of integrity and professionalism.”