Financial planner Sam Henderson.
Financial planner Sam Henderson.

ASIC bans celebrity financial adviser

Former celebrity financial planner Sam Henderson has been banned from the industry for three years, with the regulator saying his poor advice led to clients losing money and nearly cost one $500,000.

Mr Henderson was a high-profile adviser whose regular media appearances included hosting a TV finance show until a bruising appearance at the banking royal commission that led him to quit the industry a year ago.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has now banned Mr Henderson from providing financial services for three years, while noting its investigation into his conduct is continuing.

ASIC said Mr Henderson failed to act in his clients' best interests, prioritise their interests and provide appropriate advice, which led to customers either losing money or being at risk of losing money.

It used the example of the Sydney-based adviser's failure to adequately investigate and assess his clients' existing deferred benefit superannuation products.

ASIC said one client lost several thousand dollars when they rolled over their deferred benefit, while another would have lost $500,000 if they had followed Mr Henderson's advice.

Last year, Fair Work commissioner Donna McKenna told the royal commission she would have lost $500,000 in superannuation if she followed Mr Henderson's "risible" advice.

The inquiry was played recordings of a staff member of advice firm Henderson Maxwell impersonating Ms McKenna on a number of phone calls to gain information from her super fund.

ASIC said Mr Henderson did not properly document or investigate his clients' existing products, failed to provide advice relevant to their specific goals and recommended the use of his firm's in-house products without providing comparisons or justifying a switch.

It said Mr Henderson, as director and responsible manager of Henderson Maxwell, was also involved in the firm breaching its obligation to disclose information about relationships or associations that could influence the financial advice provided.

ASIC commissioner Danielle Press said financial advisers are required by law to act in the best interests of their clients and prioritise clients' interests over their own when providing personal advice.

"If providing advice about product switching or recommending in-house products, we expect advisers to demonstrate how their clients' interests are being prioritised, especially if in-house products have higher ongoing fees," Ms Press said on Wednesday.

Mr Henderson left the industry in June 2018, about six weeks after his royal commission grilling, while Henderson Maxwell has merged with another business.