The substance of the story run tonight is very sad, and it impacted a lot of people in a lot of ways.
I feel deeply for those people who genuinely lost significant sums they could not afford to.
If I could go back in time and do it differently I would, but we genuinely believed we were selling products that would benefit just about everyone who listened to both the upside AND the risks and assessed them as worthwhile.
I agree that we enthusiastically promoted the products but I also believe that I clearly explained the primary risk – that is, that if the investment did not perform as expected you would have to pay the interest and costs until completion.
For the record we were paid 0.75% commission on these products when the industry average was 2% and the interest rates on them varied between 7.5% & 8.5% when the average for equivalent loans was 11%.
Fact is, no financial services firm that I know of did more to help their clients with their structured product issues.
We invested $2m in getting the Macquarie products out of cash lock and rolled them into a new product that actually performed ok. We went without any commissions or fees on that investment as was appropriate.
ALL of those investments had a capital gain from that point. (Clients may still have lost money due to interest payments but their losses were substantially lower because of the action we took). No other financial services firm in Australia did that for their clients to my knowledge.
The investments were actually sold over seven years ago now and are all completed, so hopefully people can get on with their lives.
I personally handled every complaint in the final year I owned the company and every person with a valid complaint was compensated or referred to the Financial Industry Ombudsman Service (FiOS) if we weren’t able to come to a settlement.
And every person that FiOS deemed so, was compensated.
We worked closely with ASIC who investigated and after an extended process found nothing significant to deal with.
Unfortunately, I am not personally aware of the folk in the report and feel deeply for them and their loss.
As emotive and tragic as losing money for many people is, calling me a snake oil salesman and other childish insults was just puerile and not worthy of the national broadcaster. And it diminished the pain and suffering of the people who invested in good faith with a quality firm with a previously unblemished and professional reputation.
We ran a highly successful and professional financial services firm that employed over 100 people at its height and to have our copybook blemished in this manner was truly something of great sorrow for me.
For those who have not heard me say it in the past in many articles, and blogs, I am sorry. I appreciate for some that will not nearly be enough.
I left the financial services industry 3 years ago having sold my businesses to pay down debt. I am never going back. Honestly, I found the whole industry soul destroying. For ME to be labeled the snake oil salesman amongst that lot, knowing what I know goes on, was laughable. If I was, I was lightweight.
Despite these very sad stories I am proud of the thousands of people we helped to invest and create wealth over my twenty or so years in the industry. It’s sad for me that these investments are my legacy when all I wanted to do was help people have a significantly better life.
And finally, on a lighter note, what an array of seminar footage they found! Some of it I don’t even have and ranging over 20 years as far back as 1995!
And to my friends and supporters who truly know me and my motivations, thank you for your support.