HSBC to offer clients compensation for providing inappropriate advice
HSBC Bank Australia has offered clients approximately $690,000 in compensation for providing inappropriate advice between January 2009 and March 2013.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission, ASIC, said this week it has finalised its monitoring of HSBC Bank Australia Limited’s (HSBC) compliance with the court enforceable undertaking (EU) after almost three years.
ASIC revealed that during the investigation it uncovered instances between the beginning of 2009 and 2013, where the scope of advice given by HSBC was restricted to a single structured product and advisers had obtained little or no information about their clients' relevant personal circumstances such as their assets, liabilities, income or debts before providing advice.
ASIC also said it was concerned about the appropriateness of advice given to certain clients, stating that in some cases there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the advice matched a clients' circumstances or needs.
As a result of the surveillance, HSBC ceased offering structured products to retail clients in March 2013.
The EU required HSBC to develop and implement a review and remediation program to compensate customers who lost money because of inappropriate advice.
As part of the remediation program, HSBC reviewed 510 structured product advice files and determined that 82 files (16 per cent) contained inappropriate advice.
HSBC also tested and reviewed advice provided on other product types such as superannuation, insurance, annuities and other investments, and identified much lower instances of inappropriate advice having been provided in those areas.
The bank has offered affected clients approximately $690,000 in compensation across all product types.
HSBC’s work under the EU was assessed by Ernst & Young, who performed the role of the independent expert under the EU. Ernst & Young determined that HSBC has materially delivered on its requirements in the EU and made no further recommendations.