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ASIC Reveals Reason For Dover Closure as McMaster Exits Industry

ASIC has revealed the closure of Dover Financial Advisers was triggered by concerns it had around the ability of the group to comply with financial services laws, and owner and director, Terry McMaster would be permanently leaving the industry.

Dover principal, Terry McMaster will leave the advice sector

In a recent statement, the regulator explained that the closure followed its acceptance of a Court Enforceable Undertaking (CEU) on 28 June from Dover and McMaster, who is named as the Key Person on the advice group’s AFS Licence.

ASIC added that under the terms of the CEU, Dover would cease operating by 6 July 2018, would apply to cancel its licence and McMaster would remove himself permanently from the financial services industry. This, in turn, led Dover to make its sudden closure announcement on 9 June (see: Dover Financial Advisers to Close in One Month).

At the time of the closure announcement, neither Dover nor ASIC provided reasons for the closure apart from the regulator stating the decision to close the advice business came from Dover and McMaster (see: Dover Shutdown Not Initiated By ASIC).

The latest statement from ASIC, however, notes that on 18 May the regulator “…notified Dover that its concerns arising from the [Client] Protection Policy were significant and that ASIC would conduct an administrative hearing to assess Dover’s ongoing ability to operate a financial services business”.

“Subsequently, ASIC and Dover engaged in discussions in relation to ASIC’s concerns. Dover informed ASIC it would cease operating its financial services business under a timetable to be negotiated with ASIC,” the regulator added, in its statement.

ASIC stated that its concerns about Dover’s Client Protection Policy were raised with the group on 22 March 2018, as part of a wider, and ongoing, investigation which began in 2017.

ASIC “…notified Dover that its concerns arising from the [Client] Protection Policy were significant…”

The regulator added that McMaster prepared the Client Protection Policy, and Dover’s authorised representatives were required to refer to it in statements of advice provided to their clients, but in ASIC’s view the policy “…was designed to burden clients with the liability for losses resulting from advice that was negligent, inappropriate or not in a client’s best interests”.

The policy, which was offered from September 2015, was withdrawn by Dover on 29 March 2018 and ASIC noted the CEU resolved its concerns regarding the policy but stated that in relying upon it “…Dover had failed deliberately and systematically for over two years to:

  • comply with its obligations to act efficiently, honestly and fairly
  • comply with financial services laws
  • take reasonable steps to ensure that its representatives comply with the financial services laws”

Additionally, the regulator also claimed that “…due to his significant involvement in this conduct, ASIC was concerned that Mr McMaster, in his individual capacity and in his capacity as a responsible officer of Dover:

  • is not of good fame and character
  • impaired Dover’s ability to provide the Financial Services covered by the AFSL
  • is likely to contravene a Financial Services Law in the future”

The news of the shutdown of Dover was followed by a warning from ASIC to other licensees to vet any former Dover advisers they may recruit (see: ASIC Issues Warning for Dover Advisers, Clients).

It also led to claims that Dover advisers were being unfairly targeted (see: Dover Closure Highlights Licensing Bias Against Advisers), and the group was identified as a high-risk licensee earlier this year (see: Dover Identified as High-Risk Before Closure).

  • Megs

    Having directly experienced the ethical leadership of Terry McMaster first hand from 2011 until my retirement in 2013 I find this ASIC assertion to be opposite to reality, verging on the sureal. There will be more to this story over times ahead.

  • Spencer

    During my brief 2 years with Dover as an adviser, I have known Terry McMaster to be ethical and a strait shooter. In my experience he was a 100% compliance minded. In fact I sometimes thought the compliance regime he had in place was excessive rather than being insufficient. It is a sad day for the financial services industry to see someone who could have contributed so very much to the industry forced to leave financial services.

  • Grant

    ASIC are
    Not of good fame and character.
    Impair everyone’s ability to provide the Financial Services covered by an AFSL.
    Are likely to contravene a Financial Services Law in the future if asked to do so by a politician or banker.

    How is it in client’s best interests to shut down a dealer group because one of their documents protected advisers more than clients (especially when no one was adversely effected by the terms in that document).

    CBA and Macquarie set up the conditions and knowingly approve margin loans and lines of credit to retirees for Storm Financial Clients – Result for clients – Millions, maybe billions of dollars lost. ASIC blame everyone else. No one loses their job at CBA. Executive bonuses paid.

    CBA pressure doctors to change their statements for Trauma claims. Result for clients – Claims denied unfairly. Slap on the wrist. No one loses their job. Executive bonuses paid.

    NAB ANZ etc manipulate the bank bill swap rate to make millions. Slap on the wrist. No one loses their job. Executive bonuses paid.

    Dover have a statement in a document (which could easily be changed). Result for clients – NOTHING. License cancelled, lives ruined, 400 advisers without license or income thanks to ASIC.

    Why cant we just have one set of rules/education/compliance for everyone dealing with financial products then there will be no confusion.

    It is unbelievable that call centre staff are allowed to sell superannuation and insurances and car sales people are able to sell insurances without any training, compliance or education when a university educated financial adviser with 20 years experience has to go back to university for 2 years to sell exactly the same products and still have to put up with a mountain of paperwork and the constant threat of ASIC trying to ruin everything because they have sales targets to make.

    • Staggered

      I couldn’t agree more Grant. In a couple of years time when the retail life insurance industry sees the massive exit of its advisers, I wonder how ASIC will react?

  • Joel

    I lodged a formal complaint against ASIC. There written response was essentially, ‘Not our problem – HA HA HA HA HA”.