The corporate regulator found that HostPlus made misleading claims about offering “independent advice” in a recorded telephone message.
From July 2016 to late March 2018, the recorded telephone message referred to a free consultation available to members with an Industry Fund Service Limited (IFS) licensed financial planner. It then referred to the advice as “independent”.
ASIC was concerned that HostPlus and IFS were not independent of each other because HostPlus employees were appointed to provide financial advice under IFS’ Australian Financial Services Licence.
Further, HostPlus paid service fees to IFS for adviser services and, at the relevant time, HostPlus was a shareholder of IFS’ “ultimate holding company”, ASIC said.
In response to ASIC’s concerns, HostPlus immediately removed the use of the word “independent” from its recorded telephone message.
What is independent advice?
Financial advisers are required to operate under an Australian Financial Services Licence.
Only financial advisers who operate under a licence that they own qualify as independent.