Financial services giant AMP (ASX:AMP), in response to a damning investigation by Four Corners, has taken a swipe at suggestions that a report it commissioned last year by the AMP board could be construed as fully independent.
The report was prepared by law firm Clayton Utz on behalf of AMP in relation to allegations that AMP was issuing fees to clients while providing no services.
Four Corners, in an investigation titled Money for Nothing that aired last night, said the report was commissioned in response to pressure brought by the corporate regulator ASIC.
In a statement issued after the program, AMP says the report 'could never have been considered independent under ASIC's Regulatory Guide 12'.
"Nonetheless it was an uncompromisingly direct report into the issues," it says.
"ASIC was fully aware that Clayton Utz is a member of AMP's external legal panel and was acting for AMP in relation to ASIC's investigation into fees for no service."
In was revealed in the Banking Royal Commission that the report had passed between AMP and Clayton Utz up to 25 times for redrafting.
It also replayed testimony given to the royal commission by Jack Regan, AMP's group executive of advice that he had a 'level of discomfort' in referring to the report as independent.
The ABC investigation centred on the evidence of former AMP adviser Brett Strong. The investigation revealed that AMP had on several occasions over the past nine years been alerted to issues related to charging its clients fees for no service.
The Clayton Utz report had laid much of the blame in relation to charging fees for no service on AMP's executive director of advice Michael Guggenheimer.
The rebuff by AMP was preceded by an apology and a pledge that the company remained 'committed to regaining trust in AMP'.
"AMP acknowledges and has apologised unreservedly for the past misconduct and failures in regulatory disclosures in its Advice business," it says.
"We have admitted we let down our customers and we are now working hard to make significant improvements across the business to ensure our focus is firmly on helping and supporting our customers.
"We are strengthening our processes and governance in financial advice and are working to accelerate the compensation of customers who received inappropriate advice or were charged fees incorrectly."
It says the company is committed to cultural change under the leadership of new chairman David Murray.
Reported by Business News Australia