National law firm Maurice Blackburn has backed a comprehensive review program for Commonwealth Financial Planning customers and will be acting as independent customer advocates for any customers who opt for assistance.
John Berrill, principal and head of Maurice Blackburn's financial advice disputes department said the Open Advice Review Scheme was “far better” than previous compensation arrangements under ASIC.
"We endorse the way the bank proposes to review customers' concerns and, as the law firm that was most involved with the previous ASIC-run compensation scheme, and court action against rogue financial planner Don Nguyen, we think this scheme is much better,” Mr Berrill said.
“We have formed this view having also observed the way Macquarie Bank customers are being managed and the CBA’s Open Advice Review Scheme is superior,” he said.
“For example, one of our key concerns about the previous CBA scheme, which we highlighted during the senate inquiry into the performance of ASIC, was that customers were having meetings with the bank without anyone representing them and decisions were not independently reviewed.
“Independent reviews are built into this process. The CBA has today pledged to widen its contact with customers to include notifying 300,000 current Commonwealth Financial Planning customers.”
CBA is committed to a robust and comprehensive scheme, with the involvement of independent customer advocates at crucial points in the process, Mr Berrill said, and Maurice Blackburn are confident customers will get a reasonable assessment of their complaints and concerns and a thorough review of their portfolio.
"If it is found that customers received poor financial planning advice there will be a right to compensation through the remediation program,” Mr Berrill said.
“If people are still not satisfied, there is a right of review to an independent panel and then to the Financial Ombudsman Service, or the courts,” he said.
“This level of oversight should reassure customers.”
Maurice Blackburn will be actively working with the bank in coming weeks to progress the roll-out of the program.