Former Aon Hewitt financial adviser banned for four years

ASIC has banned Andrew Carl Hills, a former authorised representative of Aon Hewitt Financial Advice Limited, from providing financial services for four years.

The banning follows an ASIC surveillance, which found that between 2014 and 2017, Mr Hills allowed or authorised misleading and inaccurate letters about superannuation to be issued to some Aon Master Trust members. ASIC found that in doing so, Mr Hills contravened section 1041H of the Corporations Act.

ASIC found that:

  • the letters contained incorrect information, including in relation to the past performance of Aon MySuper and the timing of when members would transition to MySuper;
  • the letters omitted material information about the intended benefits of MySuper, such as lower fees and insurance premiums;
  • the letters did not disclose that it would be in Mr Hills’ interests if the members decided to opt out of MySuper, because his company would continue to receive commissions if the members opted out of MySuper;
  • some letters were seriously misleading ‘negative consent’ letters that stated members would be opted out of MySuper within five working days if they did not respond; and
  • some letters could mislead members into believing they had been given financial advice recommending that they do not transfer their superannuation balances to MySuper.

After receiving the letters, hundreds of members did not fully transition to MySuper. Instead, their accrued default amounts remained in Aon Master Trust’s ‘choice’ superannuation product, which was generally more expensive than the MySuper product.

Financial advisers must not engage in misleading conduct in connection with financial products or services.

Mr Hills has the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of ASIC’s decision.

Mr Hills’ banning has been recorded on the Financial Advisers Register and the Banned and Disqualified Persons Register. ASIC’s Moneysmart website has useful information for consumers whose advisers have been banned.

Background

Under the Government’s Stronger Super reforms, a member’s accrued default amounts of superannuation were to be transferred to a MySuper fund by 1 July 2017, unless a member opted out of the transfer. An accrued default amount is the amount of a member’s superannuation interests where the member has not given the fund trustee any direction about the investment option to be applied, or that is invested in the fund’s default investment option.

Mr Hills was an authorised representative of Aon Hewitt Financial Advice Limited between 2 February 2009 and 23 December 2018.

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