ASIC acts against super fund on general advice

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has moved against a superannuation fund on the basis of it using a general advice model.

The regulator announced today it had initiated Federal Court action against MobiSuper Fund, which is a division of the Tidswell Master Superannuation Plan.

It said the action was against:

  • Tidswell Financial Services Ltd (Tidswell), an Australian financial services (AFS) licensee and superannuation trustee;
  • MobiSuper Pty Limited (Mobi), the promoter of the MobiSuper Fund;
  • Mobi’s AFS licensee ZIB Financial Pty Limited (ZIB); and
  • Andrew Richard Grover, a director of Mobi and ZIB.
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The announcement said ASIC was concerned about potential harm to consumers if professional superannuation trustees failed to adequately monitor the activities of their promoters.

“ASIC is concerned that Tidswell and ZIB failed to do all things necessary to ensure the financial services covered by their respective AFS licences were provided efficiently, honestly and fairly,” it said.

“ASIC also alleges that both Tidswell and ZIB failed to adequately monitor Mobi’s promotion of the Fund through a purported ‘general advice model’ that had insufficient regard for consumers’ best interests,” the ASIC announcement said. “Further, ASIC alleges false and misleading statements were made about superannuation, insurance products and services.”

ASIC claims that Mobi offered an obligation-free ‘lost super’ search to consumers through internet advertising campaigns with the primary objective to get consumers to join the Fund and roll their other super balances into Mobi-promoted products.

ASIC further alleges that, in marketing telephone calls to consumers, Mobi customer service officers (CSOs) made misleading claims about fee savings and equivalent insurance cover if consumers joined the Fund and provided personal advice that was not in consumers’ best interests.

ASIC is seeking civil penalties against:

  • Tidswell and ZIB for advice given to consumers by Mobi CSOs in breach of the best interest obligations;
  • Mobi and Mr Grover for the misleading internet advertising campaigns; and
  • Mobi for the false and misleading claims made by CSOs during marketing calls.

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