Tread carefully with financial advisers register, seniors warn

National Seniors is urging consumers to exercise caution while using the Financial Advisers Register, warning that crucial information about financial advisers’ background and experience is still missing from the system.

The Federal Government announced this week that the Financial Advisers Register would include advisers’ training, qualifications and professional association memberships.

But National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill is warning consumers to tread with caution.

“We welcome that an effort is being made to improve transparency and accountability in the financial advice market but there are still holes in the system,’’ O’Neill said.

“Firstly, the register only covers five years which means it won’t pick up if an adviser was involved in the collapse of companies like Storm or Opes Prime. Nor does it capture advisers quietly let go, which we’ve seen happen at NAB recently,” he added.

“Other missing crucial information includes complaints and claims against advisers; the details of an adviser’s professional indemnity insurance; and payment arrangements including a percentage breakdown indicating how an adviser was remunerated last financial year.

“Financial advisers should disclose commissions they receive for promoting a financial product, and if found to be favouring a fund/product that they have a financial interest in, that should also be disclosed.”

The register, maintained by ASIC at http://www.moneysmart.gov.au/ verifies the status and credentials of financial planners, stockbrokers, insurance brokers and accountants who provide personal advice on products such as securities, superannuation, managed investment schemes and life insurance

National Seniors believes the register should also provide consumers with information on how to make a complaint against an adviser, available recourse options with the Financial Ombudsman Service and any dispute resolution options.

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