Problems with a financial adviser
What to do if things go wrong with an
The right kind of financial advice can help you achieve your
financial goals. However sometimes things can go wrong, so it's
important to know what to do.
It's also important to know how to protect yourself from fraud
and other potential misconduct from a financial adviser.
How to complain about an
If you're unhappy with any aspect of the advice or service you
receive, try to talk it over with the adviser.
If you are still not satisfied (or your adviser won't meet with
you) you should make a complaint through the adviser's internal
dispute resolution system. The adviser's financial services guide will tell you
how to do this.
You should receive an acknowledgement letter from the adviser's
internal dispute resolution system within 14 days. They have 45
days to give you a final response.
If you're unhappy with the response, you can contact an external
dispute resolution scheme. The business must tell you which scheme
it belongs to. See how to complain for more details.
You can also complain to the adviser's industry association
and/or professional body. Check ASIC's financial advisers register
to see which associations or professional bodies the adviser
Case study: Gary makes a complaint
Gary was advised to invest in a company which, after 6
months, became insolvent. Gary contacted his adviser to find out
what to do. His adviser refused to meet with
him or speak to him on the phone.
Gary wrote to the firm complaining about the adviser's conduct.
The firm didn't respond to Gary. After sending two letters and
waiting more than a month for a response, he decided to make a
complaint to the firm's external dispute resolution scheme,
the Financial Ombudsman Service
(FOS). FOS investigated the complaint and found that the advice
given to Gary was inappropriate. The scheme awarded Gary
compensation for his loss.
How to keep an eye on your
Even if you have a trusted relationship with an adviser, it
doesn't mean you should give them control over your money.
Keep control and avoid fraud by using these tips:
- Power of attorney warning - Don't give your
adviser power of attorney. Reputable advisers won't ask you to do
- Be wary of blank documents - Never sign a
blank document given to you by your adviser.
- Set boundaries - Avoid long-term, open-ended
arrangements even if you do have reason to give your adviser power
to buy and sell investments on your behalf.
- Keep your paperwork and track investments - If
you keep all your receipts and other documents in one place, you'll
be able to track your money and check statements for mistakes. Most
people get investment statements and reports twice a year. Be sure
all mail or emails about your investments are sent to you, not to
your adviser. When you invest with a company, make sure you receive
a receipt or statement within a month - if not, call the company
and ask for one. Find out more about tracking your
- Make arrangements for when you are sick or
away - If you are sick or going away for a long time,
authorise an independent person, a solicitor or trustee to act for
you and to check what your adviser is doing.
- Writing cheques - Never write cheques payable
to your adviser if the money will be used for investments. Make the
cheque payable to the product provider instead.
- Check your payments - Always make sure any
electronic payments or cheques have the right account number and
electronic payment details.
Protect yourself from fraud
Act immediately if something does not add up or look right.
Contact your adviser and if the matter is not sorted out quickly,
make a formal complaint. If you suspect fraud or dishonesty you
should contact your local police and ASIC. For more information see
Financial services from a lawyer
Some lawyers, in addition to professional legal services, may
offer financial or investment services. If a lawyer gives you general or personal financial
advice they must be licensed. You can check their details
on ASIC's financial advisers
When you give money to a lawyer for legal services, it is
usually protected by a fidelity fund. However, any money you give
them for investing does not have the same protection and you may
not be compensated if the money is lost through fraud, theft or
To protect your money, never give the lawyer cash or write
cheques payable to the lawyer or law firm if the money will be used
for investments. Make the cheque payable to the product provider
To make a complaint about the conduct of a lawyer or law firm,
contact the relevant legal services commission in your state.
If you're concerned that a lawyer or law firm might be providing
financial advice without a licence, you can report it to ASIC.
If you're unhappy about the service you've
received from a financial adviser, don't be afraid to complain.
Even if you have a good relationship with your adviser, you should
take steps to protect yourself from fraud. After all, it's your
Last updated: 14 Nov 2016