Celebrity financial planner Sam Henderson has been 'uncooperative' with an investigation by the Financial Planning Association

Samk Henderson speaking at an FPA function. Image: Screenshot from Yotube clip.
  • The Financial Planning Association says Sam Henderson had been “uncooperative” with an investigation of a complaint by a lawyer who would have lost $500,000 if she had accepted his advice.
  • The celebrity financial planner had called the lawyer’s complaint a “storm in a teacup”.
  • But the FPA investigator’s report was damning of Henderson’s conduct.

Celebrity financial planner Sam Henderson had been “uncooperative” with an investigation by the Financial Planning Association of a complaint by a lawyer who would have lost $500,000 if she had accepted his advice, the financial services royal commission has been told.

And more than a year after making a complaint, Donna McKenna, a commissioner at Fair Work Australia, is still waiting for a resolution.

Dante De Gori, the CEO of the Financial Planning Association (FPA), was questioned today in the royal commission by Rowena Orr, the senior counsel assisting the commission.

Evidence given at the royal commission earlier this week revealed that a staff member at the office of financial planner Henderson Maxwell impersonated McKenna to get private details from her super fund.

McKenna complained to the FPA about Henderson Maxwell, of which Sam Henderson is the head, in March 2017. Henderson Maxwell was the 2016 Practice of the Year at the Association of Financial Advisers.

When contacted by the FPA, Henderson replied that McKenna was “a lawyer and an aggressive one at that” and “frankly, I think this is a storm in a teacup”.

De Gori, who says he appeared on Henderson’s Sky News program about half a dozen times, told the commission only five members have been expelled from the FPA in the last five years.

The strongest sanction the FPA can take against a member is expulsion from the association.

He says the process dealing with McKenna’s complaint had been delayed by the departure of the FPA’s investigations officer but a conclusion to the case is imminent.

De Gori, responding to questions, said: “Mr Henderson was uncooperative with the process.”

Dante De Gori. Image: Screenshot from webcast

The FPA’s investigator wrote: “There is a strong and reasonable inference that the member’s conduct from a lack of objectivity or a conscious decision to place his own interests before those of the client when the client trusted otherwise.”

“I am of the view that the member has not been as helpful as he could or should have been in response to the FPA investigation.”

De Gori agreed that the investigator’s report was damning of Henderson’s conduct.

Henderson also sent an email to De Gori, saying: “My peers would be interested in the workings of this process and what it means to be a member of the FPA.”

De Gori says he wasn’t happy with the tone of the email and decided not to respond.

The proposed action by the FPA against Henderson include that he take corrective action to train his staff, review and modify current practices to ensure he complied with association rules, appoint an expert to do certain reviews, and to report to the FPA within three months.

The discussion included not making Henderson’s name public.

Henderson is currently not a financial member of the FPA. He failed to pay his membership dues in June last year.

The FPA has 13,000 members or affiliates and revenue of $8 million a year.

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