Fairfax Media Letter to The Editor about stories relating to Commonwealth Financial Planning

18 June 2013

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Commonwealth Financial Planning

Fairfax Media has published articles examining events between 2008 and 2009 relating to a small group of Commonwealth Financial Planners.

We deeply regret that this small group of advisers provided poor advice to some customers who at that time had trusted and banked with us for years, if not decades. None of the advisers involved remain employed by Commonwealth Bank.

We have no tolerance for behaviour that prejudices the financial wellbeing of our customers.

It is disappointing that the articles suggest that we failed to investigate concerns raised about Commonwealth Financial Planning; or sought to protect advisers; or sought to avoid compensation once we were aware of the extent of the issues.

Honesty and transparency have underpinned our discussions with the regulator and our customers.  We are not concealing anything from ASIC or our customers - other than to protect individual customer privacy, and the unnecessary public naming of staff linked to unfounded allegations.

Our program of investigation and remediation was supervised by ASIC and verified by an independent accounting firm. We have worked with customers to put things right. We acknowledge for some customers this took time. We have provided funding for affected customers to seek independent legal and qualified financial advice with respect to compensation.  We also cooperated with ASIC who took actions to ban these advisers.

Furthermore, we agreed to an enforceable undertaking to ASIC in October 2011.  This undertaking strengthens our supervision and monitoring of advisers. Our actions include prompt investigation of issues, training of staff, changes in remuneration, more rigorous systems and processes, better document management and enforcement of higher standards by new management. These changes have been welcomed and well implemented by our advisers.

As Australia’s leading financial services organisation, we are committed to ensuring everything we do is focused on securing and enhancing our customers’ financial wellbeing.

Yours sincerely,

Annabel Spring
Group Executive, Wealth Management
Commonwealth Bank, Sydney