NAB Financial Planning (NAB FP) has today confirmed it has proactively contacted all 2,520 clients identified as being impacted by falsely witnessed beneficiary nomination forms (BNF), helping to bring the matter to a close.
Beneficiary nomination forms set out who an individual wants to receive their superannuation funds in the event of death. In late 2016, during a regular compliance review, NAB FP identified that one of its advisers and his support staff did not follow company policy and incorrectly witnessed beneficiary nomination forms for clients.
While there was no ill intent or financial loss to the client, forms had been signed with only one witness present, and a second person signed as a witness without being present. Subsequent investigations found that this had occurred in other instances.
General Manager, NAB Financial Planning, Tim Steele; “Since identifying the issue, we have undertaken a comprehensive program to rectify the matter directly with advisers to ensure the behaviour will not be repeated. We have also worked with our clients to correctly execute their beneficiary nomination forms, and we can confirm this process is near complete.”
NAB FP can confirm it has reached out to all impacted clients either directly or via their financial adviser by way of letters, registered mail, phone calls and direct contact.
74 per cent of the impacted clients have returned new forms, which have been processed; 10 per cent have closed their account or are non-binding, and therefore no beneficiary update is required, and 16 per cent are yet to return new forms. NAB FP is encouraging all clients yet to return new forms to get in touch.
NAB first announced the BNF matter in May 2017 and issued a breach closure notice to ASIC on 19 July 2018, which outlined the various steps we have taken with our advisers and staff since identifying the issue for the benefit of our clients.
- Requesting our financial advisers and support staff self-report all known instances of incorrect witnessing;
- Contacting and remediating clients in accordance with NAB’s remediation framework;
- Re-issuing BNFs that were potentially invalid;
- Engaging directly with staff involved with the matter and providing further training on professional and ethical obligations;
- Enacting consequence management for 394 staff in relation to the issue;
- Reviewing Licensee Standards to explicitly state expectations in relation to witnessing, certifying and signing customer documents; and
- Creating new controls via internal file reviews
“ASIC has informed us they do not propose to make any further inquiries in relation to the matter at this time, on the basis of the information currently available, and we will continue to engage with them proactively and transparently as we work to close out this matter for our clients,” said Mr Steele.
“We are working to build trust with our clients and we have the right measures and processes in place to deliver on their expectations,” said Mr Steele.