Adviser breached code

An Auckland financial adviser has breached the code of conduct by skimping on client medical histories in insurance applications, the Financial Advisers Disciplinary Committee says.

Friday, March 29th 2019, 2:35PM

The committee's decision was released today, for the case heard on Monday.

The adviser, whose name is suppressed, was found to have breached code standard eight - requiring him to ensure personalised advice was suitable for clients - in relation to two clients.

The adviser specialised in providing advice to members of the building and construction industry on income protection, trauma, health and life insurance.

The first client did not make any medical disclosures in his application to Partners Life.

He only realised that he should have when he went to another adviser later on who put him through more thorough questioning when issuing a new policy.

The client described his meetings with his former adviser as rushed and conducted under time pressure.

The committee said knowledge of the client's medical history was necessary to put together an up-to-date risk profile for the client.

It was irrelevant that, with that disclosure provided, the new insurer still offered cover without limitations.

"The issue is whether the [adviser] can be said objectively to have made reasonable inquiries about [the client’s] risk profile at the time the application to the former insurer was made. It is clear that more could reasonably have been done to ensure up-to-date knowledge.”

The committee said the "asserted line-by-line examination of the list of conditions as a prompt for past medical history" might have been a method the adviser aspired to but it did not happen with this client.

The second client also said he had meetings with the adviser that were never more than 30 minutes.

He met the adviser while covered by a Sovereign policy, which had an exclusion relating to back pain. But when he applied for a  Partners Life policy, that injury was not disclosed. The policy was later cancelled when the full extent of his medical history was revealed.

In this case, the committee said the client's approach to medical disclosure was that he would disclose what he thought was relevant.

"[The adviser says] and we accept that he took [the client] at his word about the fact that he did not have a back injury and so included no reference to it [in his application to Partners Life]."

The committee said, assuming reasonable inquiries were made, an adviser could rely on what he or she was told by a client.

But they could not ignore other information that was otherwise known to them - and in this case, he knew the exclusion had been there and was obliged to take it into account.

That meant he had breached code standard eight in respect of that client, too.

The paper file for the client had been destroyed so there was no evidence of the way the adviser responded to the client's insistence that there was nothing to disclose.

The committee now moves into the disposition stage and the parties have been asked to make submissions on what, if any, action it should take.



Tags: FADC Life insurance

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