Australian regulator cancels AFS license of Financial Options

Maria Nikolova

The cancellation of Financial Options’ AFS licence follows the suspension of the licence on August 26, 2019 amid concerns that Financial Options was not meeting its obligations as an AFS licensee.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) today announces the cancellation of the Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence of Financial Options Pty Ltd. This happens about six months after the regulator suspended the license amid concerns that the firm was not meeting its obligations as an AFS licensee.

When suspending the license, ASIC said Financial Options did not file its accounts and audit report for the year to end-June 2018, failed to have a dispute resolution system in place, and did not maintain organisational competence or the resources required to provide the financial services covered by its licence.

In cancelling the AFS licence, ASIC said it found that Financial Options had not complied with its financial requirements and had not done all things necessary to address ASIC’s concerns in relation to organisational competence, human resources and compliance requirements.

Also today, ASIC announced the imposition of permanent ban on William John Henry Houwing (known as Jack Houwing) from providing financial services. Mr Houwing was a director and authorised representative of Financial Options. ASIC found that between August 31, 2006 and May 15, 2019, Mr Houwing arranged for his clients to lend money to his related entities, including:

  • Belbrooke Pty Ltd as trustee for the Belbrooke Administration Trust;
  • Belbrooke Pty Ltd as trustee for the Belbrooke Mortgage Trust; and
  • Ochkit Pty Ltd as trustee for the Houwing Family Trust.

ASIC found that Mr Houwing:

  • failed to act in the best interests of his clients by recommending that they allow their self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF) to lend money to his related entities, particularly in circumstances where he failed to recommend that they obtain their own independent advice;
  • arranged loans from clients for his own use, and in some cases, benefited when he failed to repay the loans on time;
  • had a conflict of interest as both a financial adviser and the recipient of the loans, and failed to prioritise the interests of his clients over his own interests;
  • is not adequately trained or competent to provide financial services; and
  • is not of good fame or character.

Mr Houwing and Financial Options have the right to seek a review of ASIC’s decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

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