Fairfax senior scribe and columnist Adele Ferguson won the Business Walkley last year for her investigation with Chris Vedelago into the Commonwealth Bank’s “boiler-room culture” when it came to financial planning, which saw clients encouraged to sign up to high-risk products in the lead-up to the GFC. As yesterday’s Walkley shortlist reveals, her domination of the Business category continues.

Yesterday the Walkley Foundation released the shortlist for the 2014 award, and Ferguson has proved the common factor in two of the three short-listed teams. Ferguson’s Macquarie financial planning scandal scoops with Ben Butler for the Fairfax papers got one spot on the short-list, while her joint investigation with Four Corner‘s Deb Masters and Mario Christodoulou into the CBA financial planning scandal yielded another.

Ferguson told Crikey she was “very humbled” to be nominated twice, and paid tribute to the talented journalists she worked with on both investigations. “I am stoked that the financial planning industry is under the spotlight now and hopefully the victims have been given a voice,” she said.

The third and final nominees to be shortlisted were The Australian Financial Review‘s Nabila Ahmed, Sue Mitchell and James Chessell, who broke the news that Myer and David Jones were in merger talks then tied that to some suspicious trades by board directors at DJs, leading to those directors resigning. Mitchell and Chessell remain mainstays of the Fin’s business coverage, but Ahmed was one of those taking redundancy in November last year. She’s since been snapped up by Bloomberg in New York.

The Australian has recently beefed up (and relaunched) its business section, and editor Clive Mathieson told Crikey that investigations would be a key plank of the Oz‘s coverage. News Corp went without a nomination in the business category this year, but they have poached Butler along with a slew of other Fairfax business journalists, so perhaps next year will yield more.

Peter Fray

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