ASIC, Financial Planning

Adviser gets permanent ban

Adviser banned SMSF loans

ASIC has permanently banned a Queensland adviser who advised clients to make loans from their SMSF to his businesses, breaching his best interests duty.

A Queensland-based adviser has been permanently banned from providing financial services after an Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) investigation found he advised them to make loans from their SMSF to his related business interests.

The corporate regulator imposed the punitive measure on William John Henry Houwing (known as Jack Houwing), from the town of Esk, after discovering a range of illegal activity that took place between 31 August 2006 and 15 May 2019.

During that time, Houwing was an authorised representative of Australian financial services (AFS) licensee Financial Options and involved loans to Belbrooke Pty Ltd as trustee for the Belbrooke Administration Trust, Belbrooke Pty Ltd as trustee for the Belbrooke Mortgage Trust, and Ochkit Pty Ltd as trustee for the Houing Family Trust.

Specifically, ASIC determined in recommending his clients loan money to the related entities from their SMSFs, Houwing failed to act in their best interests especially in situations where he did not direct them to seek their own independent advice.

The regulator also found Houwing arranged loans from his clients for his own use and benefited from situations where he failed to pay back the borrowing.

In addition, it deemed Houwing had a conflict of interest seeing he advised the loan be made and was also the recipient of the loan, whcih again showed he breached his best interest duty as he acted with his own interest as his priority.

Finally, he was considered not to be of good fame or character and not adequately trained or competent to provide financial services.

“The failure of financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients or to prioritise their clients’ interests over their own not only harms their clients, but also erodes public trust in the financial system,” ASIC commissioner Danielle Press said.

“ASIC expects financial advisers to uphold the values of integrity and professionalism.”

In the same disciplinary action, the regulator also cancelled the AFS licence of Financial Options, having previously suspended this licence on 26 August 2019 for not meeting its legal obligations covering financial requirements, organisational competence, human resources and compliance.

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