AMP terminated former ‘puppet’ planner over compliance concerns

The former AMP financial planner responsible for publicly airing damning allegations about high-pressure sales tactics at the company, resigned from the wealth manager under a cloud after it red-flagged some of his advice over compliance concerns.

Brett Strong, a self-employed financial planner who became an authorised representative of AMP in mid-2013, told ABC TV’s Four Corners he was pushed to sell AMP financial products over other more suitable products offered by other institutions.

He also supported the bruising royal commission revelations that the tarnished wealth manager had charged fees for financial advice it did not provide.

“The AMP clients were being charged every month automatically and not receiving a red razoo. Sorry, but they weren’t. They weren’t receiving anything,” he said on the program.

Mr Strong – who had 700 clients when he joined AMP, but under his arrangement with the wealth manager he received another 2000 client files – resigned from AMP in March 2014, after less than a year.

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In a statement AMP said Mr Strong resigned from the company after “compliance issues including certain advice” were raised with him, and subsequently terminated his authorised representative status in August 2014.

“AMP will review the claims made by Mr Strong to the Four Corners program. Our advisers are able to advise on both AMP and non-AMP products. They have a legal obligation to only recommend a new product when it is in their client’s best interests,” said AMP.

Once a financial adviser resigns from a licensee, they are still expected to address compliance issues, something it is understood Mr Strong did not do.

Mr Strong said AMP was “trying to get my existing book of business over to their particular products and services. That didn’t sit well with me.”

He said: “The amount of additional things they put in front of me made me feel like a corporate slut, a bitch to somebody’s command. A puppet would be the best way to describe it.”

Another current AMP financial planner, who has been an authorised representative of the company for more than 20 years, said he had never been asked to push an AMP product.

He told The Australian Financial Review any incentives to recommend in-house products “stopped in 2003”.

AMP, the nation’s oldest wealth manager, is fighting battles on all fronts.

It faces five potential class actions, brand trashing revelations at the royal commission and a regulator probe, and is still trying to find a permanent chief executive and a handful of new directors.

On Monday, Shine Lawyers said it was investigating whether the allegation raised by Mr Strong should give rise to another class action.

“Under the Future of Financial Advice enacted in 2015, an obligation is imposed on financial advisers to act in the best interest of your client and when looking at your products and the client, that must involve a consideration of a range of products that are the best fit for your client’s needs, not just the company you work for,” said Shine Lawyers national class actions lead, Jan Saddler.

AMP said in its statement that it was “working to accelerate the compensation of customers who received inappropriate advice or were charged fees incorrectly”.

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