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10 replies
  1. Rainer
    Rainer says:

    The Investments provded by advice from Peter Spann through Macquarie Investments were not only extremely high in fees and interest rate charges, but far from failed to perform at all. I have paid over $35,000 in interest and fees nad am looking to make approx $9k from the investment. Stay away from any advice from Peter Spann!!

    • Peter Spann
      Peter Spann says:

      The fees that Freeman Fox received for these investments were 0.75% per annum when the average fee for investments in the industry was around 1.5% to 2% per annum.
      Interest rates were between 7.5% and 9.% when the average Margin Loan was 12%. A protected margin loan would have been as high as 17%.
      Whilst I agree that your return was very low if you had borrowed by margin loan you would not only have lost an equivalent amount you would have still owed the bank the full amount borrowed ($35,000). Further if I had not negotiated hard on your behalf and spent $2million of my own money to re-set the investments (legal fees, foregone commissions, consulting fees and so on) then your return would have been zero. So whilst I appreciate you are disappointed I doubt if you can find another person or firm in this country that achieved the re-set we did for our clients.
      Full details of performance are here:

  2. Louise de Dassel
    Louise de Dassel says:

    I just noticed I am still being charged an annual wealth package fee ($395) even though the company ceased trading 14 months ago and I stopped using the company services when John Aitchison left.

    • Peter Spann
      Peter Spann says:

      Each of the client portfolios were sold to different companies. To stop the fee being charged either contact the company one your statement or contact the manager (Colonial First State for example) and they will cancel the fee.

  3. Judy S
    Judy S says:

    I am still wondering if I have any recourse for the $75000 I lost, it was all borrowed. My advisor pressured me to hang on. In my original portfolio I stated I was prepared to ‘loose’ 20%. I am angry that I let him pesuade me to hang on for longer than I was comfortable with. I am not far from retiring, can only work part time so financially it’s difficult. I accept the risk, I accept the GFC, but regret not being more demanding with my advisor. In the end I just said sell it all. All I achieved was a higher mortgage at high interest rates at interest only for 5 or so years. I have no hope of paying it off till I sell my house. This is the biggest mistake I have ever made. I reiterate my anger is aimed at the advice to hold for so long, he gave me bad advice

    • Peter Spann
      Peter Spann says:

      It is difficult for me to answer as I do not have access to client files nor is it appropriate for me to comment now.

      However I do know the most common reason for recommending that a client stayed with the investment rather than redeeming was the cost to exit the loan. The loans on these products were for fixed rates for a fixed period and often came with high exit penalties. Often an investor would have had to pay a very similar amount to that which they would have paid eventually by holding the investment. At the same time, redeeming the investment early would mean that you lost the capital protection for the loan and any chance of profiting if the underlining investment were to go up by then close dates of the fund – which, for all of our products it did.

      So if it was going to cost the investor almost as much to redeem then as it would over time, plus they would lose capital protection and potential capital gain by redeeming, the obvious recommendation was to stay put.

      As I said I can’t say definitively if this were the situation in your case, but it was very common and if that was the case then their advice would have been appropriate given your circumstances.

      Remember you don’t have to like, agree with or act upon the advice given to you by a financial planner – you have free choice to do what you want, especially if you are uncomfortable, but they do have to give you their best advice given the circumstances. The onus is on them to get the advice right, but the onus is on you to act upon, or not, that advice as you see fit. The mere fact that you felt pressured to hang on is not, unfortunately, grounds for compensation. You need to approve they got the advice wrong, and I think that’s going to be difficult.

      However, if you still believe you have a case you would first complain to the advice provider. Over time Freeman Fox’s advice was given by a number of different AFSL holders so you need to find the correct one. You can find this out by referring to your original Statement of Advice – you will see the name and AFSL Number of the provider. Go to the ASIC website and look up that number and it will give you their current details. Complain to them first as they have to be given the opportunity to defend themselves and to be completely impartial, whilst I understand your anger rarely is there a case for compensation given the circumstances I have mentioned.

      If you are unhappy with their response you can then go to the Financial Industry Ombudsman Service and deal with the complaint through there. (They will simply refer you back to the Advice provider if you have not lodged your complaint with them first).

      You will need to be able to prove why the advice as not appropriate at the time that it was given, that the adviser could reasonably been aware of this, and demonstrate the actual loss caused to you by actioning on (or in this case taking no action because of) their advice. This is likely to be the cost of the interest from the time of the advice to the end of the term of the loan minus the cost of any tax or other benefit you received from the loan, minus any capital growth on the fund during that period, and given that most of the funds went up a reasonable amount in the last few years this may considerably reduce the value of any compensation you might receive.

      Whilst I doubt if my answer has lowered your anger I hope it explains the situation to you and lays out your choices.

      • Judy S
        Judy S says:

        Thank you for taking the time to answer my comment. This all occurred 2007 to 2012. My investments started in Macquarie then ended up in GEMS. I will investige your suggestions. Thank you again.

    • Peter Spann
      Peter Spann says:

      Simply because, by the time of the recovery Excela was no longer an LIC.

      In 2009 the Company’s then Chairman suggested that the company was too small as an LIC to be viable and put forward a vision of it acquiring the Freeman Fox businesses to become a fully fledged financial services company.

      From that moment on I stepped aside from the Board as I had an obvious conflict of interest.

      On the 29/12/2009 an Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of changing the nature of the business (from a LIC to an Operating Business) and acquiring the Excela Funds Management Business which it then completed on the 7/1/2010.

      This meeting was duely constituted, with significant notice to shareholders, a PDS issued including an Independent Expert’s report and mailed to all shareholders at their registered address as well as emailed. Approximately 30% of shareholders voted (which is actually a pretty good turnout) and approximately 90% of those voted in favour of the motions.

      You can find these announcements, notices and results here…

      From that moment on the business was subject to the vagaries of the market and history has shown is was not kind to financial services businesses.

      On the 12/8/2010 Shareholders again voted on the Acquisition of Freeman Fox Stockbroking and that was completed shortly after.

      Excela was to have completed the acquisition of Freeman Fox Wealth Club as well but unfortunately John passed away and the new Chairman did not believe it was worthwhile to continue.

      This, in my opinion, left the company “half pregnant” with considerable obligations that could not be met without the Financial Planning arm of the business, resulting in a unacceptable capital burn and led to considerable friction between myself and the Board.

      At the time I sold my shares at the “request” of my Bankers the fall in the share price was equivalent to similar small financial services companies.

      The thing to note here is that any shareholder was always able to sell their shares. The company maintained liquidity while ever I was a shareholder through its buy back scheme which was also voted on by shareholders at every AGM.

      If a shareholder didn’t like these propositions they could have voted against them and when not successful they could have sold their shares.

      The company listed at $1 and peaked at about $1.20. It was bad timing for a listing, even a LIC, just before the GFC.

      Around the time of the first change the share price was about 70c and then around the second change it was around 50c, and the third change around 40c.

      So even though those prices would have been a loss there was nothing stopping a shareholder from exiting. And that is why people invest in the sharemarket because of it’s liquidity. You can sell your shares at any time.

      Any shareholder unhappy with the direction of the company could simply have voted with their feet and exited at any time.


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