NAB Financial Planning is currently conducting a review of client Beneficiary Nomination Forms, to ensure they have all been correctly completed.
“Our customers are our number one priority, and ensuring they have correctly completed documentation is paramount,” NAB Financial Planning General Manager, Tim Steele, said.
Beneficiary Nomination Forms set out who an individual wants to receive their superannuation funds in the event of death. In some instances, the Trustee of the Fund may require non-lapsing binding beneficiary nominations to have two witnesses to the clients’ signature, however it is not a statutory requirement.
In late 2016, during a regular compliance review, NAB Financial Planning identified that one of its advisers and his support staff had not correctly witnessed Beneficiary Nomination Forms for clients. The clients had signed the form 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.
“While there is no evidence of ill-intent, and advisers gain no personal benefit, this practice is clearly wrong and is not acceptable.
“We are not aware of any clients being impacted by this. We will work with Trustees to determine whether any clients may need to re-sign these forms,” Mr Steele said.
NAB has notified ASIC about this matter, both verbally and in writing, and will continue to engage with ASIC about its findings.
“While advisers and staff may have been seeking to make things easier for clients, it is clearly wrong, and we are taking this matter very seriously.
“As NAB has always said, where we find issues, we will investigate them, we will fix them, and we will improve our systems and processes to prevent them from re-occuring,” Mr Steele said.
As part of the review, NAB Financial Planning has asked staff to report any instances when this may have happened, and advisers will have non-compliance consequences applied. Staff who do not self-report, and are later found to have not followed the correct processes, will face a review of their employment.
“We are taking a thorough and methodical approach to this review, we have addressed this issue with our staff, and we have strengthened our existing auditing processes to ensure staff understand and adhere to the correct process moving forward.”