Firm queries financial planning advice

People who stand to lose their life savings in the collapse of fund manager Trio Capital were given “questionable” advice and placed into an inappropriate, high-risk investment, a financial planning firm claims.Wollongong company Symes Warne and Associates has taken the unusual step of publicly distancing itself from the scandal which has engulfed two rival financial planning companies – Tarrants and Dominion.Ross Tarrant breaks his silence.Clients of the two companies reported lost individual nest eggs of up to $500,000 when their money disappeared after being invested in Trio Capital’s $123 million Astarra Strategic Fund.Symes Warne financial planner Alison Henderson said the firm had never recommended Trio Capital products, and had actively encouraged new clients with existing Trio Capital investments to move their funds out.She said the Astarra Strategic Fund, money from which was invested in a complex web of foreign hedge funds, posed unacceptably high risk and lacked transparency and liquidity.Ms Henderson described the decision to recommend such products as “questionable”.She said Symes Warne had parted ways with financial planner Colin Warne in 1994 and the business would soon undergo a name change.Many of Mr Warne’s clients, now with Dominion, have been burnt by the Trio Capital fiasco.Ms Henderson warned against financial planners relying too heavily on reports from research houses when making investment decisions, and said such ratings only gave an indication of past performance and market volatility.The Trio Capital controversy had tarnished the reputation of the financial planning industry, she said.”Our profession is getting dragged through the mud again because of this latest debacle … it makes it difficult for consumers to go to seek financial advice because they’re scared (of losing money),” Ms Henderson said.She expressed her support for financial planning reforms due to come into effect in 2012, which would ban commissions and also legally bind planners to act in the best interests of their clients.
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