Financial Options AFS licence has been cancelled by ASIC

February 26, 2020 at 04:51 AM
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ASIC has cancelled the Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence of Financial Options Pty Ltd (Financial Options) and also has permanently banned Queensland-based financial adviser Mr. William John Henry Houwing from providing financial services. Previously, in August 2019 we talked about the suspension of the company’s license.

Mr. Houwing, of Esk, was a director and authorised representative of Financial Options. ASIC found that between 31 August 2006 and 15 May 2019, Mr. Houwing arranged for his clients to lend money to his related entities, including: 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 Houwing Family Trust.

ASIC has found several misconducts in Houwing actions. According to official statement, Mr. Houwing failed to act in the best interests of his clients by recommending that they allow their self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF) to lend money to his related entities. He also arranged loans from clients for his own use, and in some cases, benefited when he failed to repay the loans on time. Houwing had a conflict of interest as both a financial adviser and the recipient of the loans and failed to prioritise the interests of his clients over his own interests. He is not considered to be an adequately trained or competent to provide financial services and is not of good fame or character.

ASIC Commissioner, Danielle Press has commented, “The failure of financial advisers to act in the best of 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 expects financial advisers to uphold the values of integrity and professionalism.”

The cancellation of Financial Options’ AFS licence follows the suspension of the licence on 26 August 2019, following concerns that Financial Options was not meeting its obligations as an AFS licensee. 

In cancelling the AFS licence, ASIC found that Financial Options had not complied with its financial requirements and had not done all things necessary to address ASIC’s concerns in relation to organisational competence, human resources and compliance requirements.

Mr Houwing’s banning will be recorded on ASIC’s publicly available Financial Advisers Register and the Banned and Disqualified Persons Register.

Mr Houwing and Financial Options have the right to seek a review of ASIC’s decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

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