ASIC has banned Melbourne-based financial adviser David Noel Ruthenberg from providing financial services for three years. Mr Ruthenberg operated through his own financial planning practice, which traded as Venture Advisory Consulting, and was an authorised representative of The FinancialLink Group Pty Ltd (TFLG) at the time of the misconduct.
The three-year ban also prohibits Mr Ruthenberg from managing, supervising or auditing the provision of financial services and from providing training about financial services and products.
ASIC found that, between June 2015 and September 2017,Mr Ruthenberg recommended that some of his clients invest in a high-risk fund, the Investport Income Opportunity Fund (the Fund). Mr Ruthenberg had a specific interest in the Fund via personal borrowings and ASIC found that he failed to prioritise his clients’ interests above his own when recommending they invest in the Fund.
Further, the high-risk nature of the investment did not match his clients’ risk profiles or experience, and Mr Ruthenberg was found to have failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into alternative financial products that could have met the clients’ needs.
The banning of Mr Ruthenberg is part of ASIC’s ongoing efforts to improve standards across the financial services industry.
Mr Ruthenberg was an authorised representative of TFLG (AFSL No. 240 938) from 6 September 2013 to 14 September 2021.
He is the director of Venture Finance & Advisory Pty Ltd (ACN 130 550 006) which traded as Venture Advisory Consulting.
The Investport Income Opportunity Fund (ARSN 121 875 009) is a registered managed investment scheme operated by Endeavour Securities (Australia) Limited (under external administration). The Fund is an entity related to Mr Ruthenberg’s former licensee, TFLG.
On 4 August 2021, Mr Ruthenberg lodged an application for review of ASIC’s decision with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal . On the same day, he also applied to the Tribunal for a stay of ASIC’s decision.
Mr Ruthenberg subsequently withdrew his application for review of ASIC’s decision, and the application was dismissed by the AAT on 10 June 2022.
If any financial advice clients have concerns about the advice they have received, they should lodge a complaint with the AFS licensee, The FinancialLink Group Pty Ltd (TFLG), in the first instance. If a client is dissatisfied with TFLG’s response to their complaint, they can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) https://www.afca.org.au/
ASIC’s Moneysmart website has useful information for consumers whose advisers have been banned.