Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Financial adviser Stephen Duff agrees to stop giving advice

Regulators were concerned Stephen Duff was operating as an authorised financial advisor without holding the designation.  File photo / iStock
Regulators were concerned Stephen Duff was operating as an authorised financial advisor without holding the designation. File photo / iStock

An Auckland financial adviser has agreed he won't provide services or receive client money for the next five years after regulators voiced concerns that he may have broken the law.

Stephen Duff, brother of Once Were Warriors author Alan Duff, ran a financial advice business under the name Financial Vision.

But when market regulators visited his offices, they became concerned Stephen Duff was operating as an authorised financial advisor without holding that designation.

AFAs must be licensed by the FMA, which was worried that Duff's conduct had breached the Financial Advisors Act.

Duff, according to a set of enforceable undertakings he signed with the FMA, accepts that he was not authorised to provide financial advice to retail customers.

In response to the FMA's concerns, he agreed to retire from providing financial advice in 2014 and sold Financial Vision's client list to a licensed provider.

He also deregistered from the Financial Services Providers Register.

And more than 18 months later, Duff has signed enforceable undertakings with the FMA.

Duff agreed, last week, that for the next five years, would not:

• Provide financial advice;
• Deal with client investments;
• Receive client money;
• Serve as a director or manager of any company involved in providing financial advice.

This matter is not the only time that Duff has run into issues with the FMA.

Last year the regulator told the High Court that Frimley Estate - a property development company Duff directed - had contravened the Securities Act by failing to issue a prospectus. The FMA considered the "contraventions by Frimley were serious".

After failing to convince a judge to direct otherwise, Frimley was liable to repay shareholder investment because of this alleged breach.

The company was set up by Stephen and Alan Duff in 2004 and proposed to subdivide and sell sections of a 7.86 hectare block of land in Hawkes Bay.

While some sections were developed and sold, the development was not completed and, overall, not a success.

The company is now both in liquidation and receivership.

Liquidators said in January that IRD was claiming $167,870 and unsecured creditors were seeking an additional $206,410.

- NZME.

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