AMP , despite going through the motions with ASIC, has been in a state of denial ever since an uncomfortably large number of its financial planners were caught four months ago offering deficient or no reasons at all for swapping customers out of other super funds into AMP products.

The cynical might form the opinion that everyone should know the reason – commission payments for the sales force – but ASIC would at least like that in writing.

From the first, AMP from CEO Andrew Mohl down has been saying it was really nothing at all, merely meaningless paperwork, nothing more than a technical oversight. They’re obviously lacking the bile of human cynicism in the upper echelons of AMP management.

An indication of how relaxed the boss was about it was the revelation that AMP would only investigate any of the 7,000 cases of super switching by their advisers if the client requested such a review. And this very big, very wealthy funds manager was only going to get around to sending out letters offering a review of advice in October.

Turns out it took even longer to write those letters and buy some stamps. Trish Power writes in Eureka Report that the letters only found their way to the post office this month. The AMP’s web site says 5,900 letters were sent by ASIC’s 21 November deadline for contacting former industry super fund members while writing to all the former members of other retail funds will take until February.

It’s a wonderful process the AMP site outlines, closely involving the planners themselves in deciding which of their customers should receive one of the letters offering a review.

Again, only a cynical soul might think it’s to AMP’s benefit to take as long as possible before anyone gets around to doing a review because AMP’s stock picking and asset allocation has been doing very well lately, perhaps retrospectively making the advice to switch appear good and covering some of the higher fees being charged.

And only a similarly cynical soul might think any AMP financial planner might contact his or her customers explaining the good performance before any offer of a review might arrive in the very slow post.

But even a cynic could be surprised to find AMP apparently has no urgent desire of its own to discover and root out the inevitable few dodgy financial planners in its ranks. Or maybe that’s just what makes people cynical.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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