Palmerston North registered financial adviser, Brian (John) Ferguson, has been identified by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) as having engaged in serious misconduct.
The FMA issued a public warning about Ferguson, following an investigation which found that he had copied and pasted client signatures in insurance policy documents.
These policy documents were between third party insurers and clients advised by Ferguson and the misconduct was found to have occurred between approximately October 2016 and April 2018.
The regulator stated that Ferguson had contravened section 34 of the Financial Advisers Act 2008 because the conduct involved was misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive.
During the period of misconduct, Ferguson was contracted by Preferred NZ.
Preferred NZ CEO, Simon Fisher, told RiskinfoNZ the company had identified there was an issue in April this year, after which it immediately terminated Ferguson’s contract and also notified the FMA of the termination, and its reasons for doing so.
Fisher emphasised the critical importance of full disclosure and transparency in circumstances such as this, in order to be able to maintain public trust in the value and in the integrity of financial advice in New Zealand.
In two separate instances, Ferguson was found to have inserted a client’s signature on documents by creating a copy of the client’s signature and physically taping it onto the missing signature box.
The FMA stated he either personally carried out the action or requested a member of the administrative staff to do so.
Ferguson had the consent of the client in one instance and claimed he had verbal consent of the client in the second instance.
The FMA accepts that Ferguson’s conduct was not intended to mislead those purchasing the policies. However, the conduct was likely to mislead the insurer who did not know of the substitution.
FMA Director of Regulation, Liam Mason, said, “Mr Ferguson’s misconduct is serious, falling significantly below the care, diligence and skill a reasonable financial adviser would exercise.
“This warning is being made public to deter both Mr Ferguson and others in the market from engaging in similar misconduct,” said Mason.