License article

IOOF loses head of dealerships

Beleaguered wealth manager IOOF has lost its group general manager of dealerships Mick Farrell at a time when the company is grappling with a scandal in its research department.

Mr Farrell left in January after three years at the company where he oversaw the integration of IOOF's various financial advice brands into one dealership group, including its series of acquisitions over the period between 2013 and end of 2015.

Mr Farrell's departure comes shortly after company secretary and head of human resources Danielle Corcoran left the company following its annual general meeting in late November.

Separately, on Monday IOOF chief executive Chris Kelaher cashed in on more than $17 million worth of IOOF shares in a sell-down of his sizeable holding in the wealth manager. He still holds nearly $30 million in IOOF shares.

IOOF's has been in damage control after explosive revelations of misconduct by senior staff, including allegations of insider trading, claims of front-running, misrepresentation of performance figures, faulty research reports and junior staff being asked to cheat on training and compliance modules on behalf of their boss.

IOOF's former head of advice research Peter Hilton is at the centre of allegations that he asked junior staff to cheat on compliance and training modules on his behalf.


Mr Hilton was also subject to an internal investigation into possible front running on behalf of a relative and plagiarising research reports. 

IOOF this week declined to comment on whether Mr Hilton was still on sick leave citing privacy reasons.

The allegations of wrongdoing by Mr Hilton were brought to light by company whistleblowers who raised their concerns during 2014.

Separately, IOOF confirmed 57 clients of financial advisers working as representatives for IOOF's brands had been compensated $2.8 million in the past two years alone. Last year also saw IOOF let go 33 planners from the MyAdviser business it picked up through its acquisition of Plan B in September 2012.

Since the scandal broke, IOOF has been forced to front a senate inquiry and have brought in PricewaterhouseCoopers to review the company's systems and controls in its advice research division. The company now faces a class action brought by aggrieved shareholders.

Significant improvements made

There is no suggestion by Fairfax Media Mr Farrell engaged in any wrongdoing at IOOF and a spokesman for the company said he had made significant improvements to the dealership group during his tenure.

The IOOF spokesman said Mr Farrell, who joined on a two-year contract in early 2013, was applauded by IOOF chief executive Chris Kelaher on his departure for his contribution to the company.

Mr Farrell stayed on an extra year to assist with the integration of Shadforth Financial Group, incorporating Plan B, and Western Pacific, the spokesman said.  

"To imply or state that Mr Farrell left IOOF for performance or any other reason would be incorrect and potentially defamatory," the spokesman said.

With Mr Farrell returning to his private consultancy business, IOOF has appointed Renato Mota to the newly created role of group general manager wealth management.

Ms Corcoran was also lavished with praise ahead of her departure at the company's AGM.

She joined IOOF after its acquisition of Australian Wealth Management in 2009, a company that was led by Mr Kelaher and included Mr Hilton as the head of its research department.