Last week The Age released an article revealing insurance comparison website iSelect came under fire from ASIC for claiming to be “independent” despite taking commissions. Wealth manager Wilson HTM and Suncorp’s Citywide Insurance Brokers and Financial Planners were also asked to remove words such as “independant” “impartial” and “unbiased” from their advertising while simultaneously accepting commissions. Under the Corporations Act these types of words cannot be used by companies receiving commissions, volume-based payments, gifts or other benefits through sales or referrals.
ASIC has vowed to publicly name entities that were found to be unlawfully advertising about the independence of the licensee or the services they provide. ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said “The independence of financial system gatekeepers such as financial advisers is an important issue for consumers and investors and may sway their decisions about their investments or their choice of advisor.”
This is especially relevant for wealth creation firms and financial advisors, who should take note and carefully review the language used in their branding and advertising.