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AMP caught up in adviser dispute

AMP has found itself in the middle of a dispute between two authorised financial advisers (AFAs) that has spilled over into the courtroom.

Thursday, November 15th 2012, 8:17AM 10 Comments

Details of the dispute between ex-AMP adviser Bryan Tucker and his former business partner Edwin Longman were revealed in a recent High Court judgment.

In 2010 the two men merged their AMP broking businesses, with Longman’s business Waikato Insurance and Financial Services Limited (WIFSL) transferring its clients to Tucker’s firm Inrich in exchange for a 61% shareholding.

They agreed to separate their interests after Tucker resigned as an AMP agent due to a dispute with the provider; Longman wanted to stay with AMP.

Following his resignation as a director of Inrich in January this year Tucker became concerned about some payments being made by Inrich to Longman, who was now the company’s sole director.

Tucker passed a shareholder’s resolution (relying on Companies Office records still showing him as sole shareholder) removing Longman as director and replacing him with a man named Jordan Paterson.

Paterson then removed Longman as an employee of Inrich, leaving the company without an AMP agent to look after its clients.

As a result AMP exercised its “step-in” rights under its agency agreement with Inrich and began servicing the clients through its call centre staff.

“However, this is not a satisfactory arrangement in the long-term,” Justice Murray Gilbert said in his judgment.  “All parties agree that the clients should be serviced by an advisor and that the value of the client book will diminish unless this occurs.”

AMP proposed to sell the commission rights to another adviser but WIFSL didn’t want these rights to be sold to another adviser, nor did it want to have to pay to re-acquire them.

WIFSL claimed Inrich failed to pay a cash purchase price of $450,000 allegedly due and issued proceedings seeking to have the commission rights re-vested to it.

It applied for an interim injunction preventing the commission rights being sold and preventing Tucker or Paterson from contacting the clients until this matter had been dealt with by the court.

However, Justice Gilbert denied the application, saying the evidence showed the purchase price was never intended to be paid in cash but rather in WIFSL’s 61% shareholding.

“WIFSL’s rights will not be infringed by Inrich contacting any of the clients transferred to it. Similarly, WIFSL’s rights will not be infringed if AMP pays the commissions to Inrich or if Inrich disposes of the commission rights,” the judge said.

“It is not disputed that AMP has the right to dispose of the commission rights to another AMP advisor. AMP will not infringe WIFSL’s rights by doing so.”

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Comments from our readers

On 15 November 2012 at 9:52 am Anon said:
The joys of a tied agency arrangement. The adviser does not "own" the commissions rights, nor the asset value of the client.
On 15 November 2012 at 10:56 am Forthright said:
It seems the Judge has clearly stated AMP has the right to dispose of the commission rights to another AMP agent. However, the article is silent, on whether the Advisers who built up the business would receive any of the proceeds from the selling of the commission rights. It would be very unfair if they did not.

This also highlights the problem of dealing with exclusive product suppliers, who essentially have the exclusive rights to step into your business and do what they think is in the best interests of themselves and I imagine the client interests would or should feature somewhere in the decision process.

It also seems to me the dealer groups that clip the ticket with over-ride commission payments have a business model which would have resulted in a much better outcome for the two Advisers and their clients involved in the dispute.
On 15 November 2012 at 12:54 pm Amused said:
As Anon and Forthright have stated above, advisers that align themselves (and their clients) to only one provider may ultimately regret the decision.

On 15 November 2012 at 2:53 pm Rossco said:
Who would establish and grow a business that is controlled by somebody else. AMP agent contracts are last century.
On 15 November 2012 at 4:54 pm Independent Observer said:
It is always useful to understand who the stakeholder is in any business, and what is at stake.

As noted above - if you're aligned with a major institution then you have converted a major chunk of your independence (from a business perspective rather than an investment perspective)in exchange for other benefits
On 15 November 2012 at 5:09 pm Hardgate said:
Amp contracts and the way they deal with their agents show that they have no interest in looking after anyone but themselves. The sooner the media exposes how these big corporates work the better.
On 16 November 2012 at 10:07 am Interested Observer said:
Whilst this is about provisions of a contractual arrangement (regardless of whether they be right or wrong) what is missing from this article and which readers may not be aware of is the background context of the relationship between the two advisers and the organisation and how it got to this point in the first place.
There's alot more to this one than meets the eye, and much of it has to do with one party behaving inappropriately in regard to the customer in order to line their own pockets (and it's not who you might suppose).
This was a car crash waiting to happen!!!!
On 16 November 2012 at 6:07 pm invers dag said:
Looks like an issue of an old fashioned agreement with an old fashioned company.

If AMP continue to operate with agreements lke this Brent Shearer will not be saying "who is Barry Read" but "who is AMP"
On 16 November 2012 at 6:14 pm paulo said:
Are the FSC (ex ISI) stats out yet for the quarter ? Advisers are probably showing what they think of the amp society and this will show up in the numbers.

On 17 November 2012 at 5:20 pm The Editor said:
Yes. The FSC numbers are out. We should have as story on Monday or Tuesday....stay tuned.

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