published 1 year ago
When ASIC completes its corporate action against Dixon Advisory (owned now by E&P Financial Group), we will see the confirmation of yet another bad actor in the investment sector. How bad is now revealed in the reviews on these pages, as well as numerous articles in the financial press. While we can measure our financial losses in the SMSFs set up by Dixons, what is harder to measure is the ongoing anxiety, worry, sleepless nights, guilt and sorrow that this company has brought upon us.
When I had an interview with the founder of Dixon’s over 15 years ago, I felt confident in placing my savings for retirement with them, and regular radio appearances and articles on superannuation by the founder strengthened my confidence.
However, my concerns were first raised in 2008 when high profile principals of the firm along with Dixon clients lost money in the Lift Capital collapse. It was at this point that I became aware that members of the firm were employing risky strategies for higher returns in their investment strategies.
As time went by, I received numerous emails from my Dixon advisor and their broker about “opportunities” that were available to me (but would close on that Friday!). I didn’t like the anxiety and tension this raised, and it made me question whether this was just a marketing ploy to generate more activities and fees in my account. I couldn’t understand why this super fund manager was taking a “boiler room” approach to selling products.
Later I was told I would need to transfer my Cash Management Accounts to bank accounts that were “approved” by Dixon – meaning for which they would receive fees. Soon this was followed by phone calls and advice to sell my blue chip Australian shares paying franked dividends to buy into the property market in the US. This made no sense to me. I was happy with my investments but still worried whether they knew better than me and was I missing out on a good investment.
However, by 2011 a highly respected property advisor was writing that the New Jersey properties were “speculative …cheap and nasty”. I looked at the URF glossy brochure and didn’t like what I saw. On top of this no one else was recommending URF: it was only sold to Dixon clients – an easy and captive market. Later I we found out about the huge fees Dixons were raking in from this product.
All these were signs of greed that I found extremely hard to reconcile with my first impressions. Trust is number one but at each step along the way I felt my trust was abused. The final straw was that I was asked to leave Dixons, and another Super Fund manager was suggested to me. I felt appalled and upset. I said to the managing director who called me that I wanted the simple service that I had signed up for with the trustworthy founder. He simply said, “Well things change”.
However, as the expensive, blanket advertising of Dixons continued I realised that they were replacing unwanted clients like me with new clients who were unaware of their tactics. This is a firm which exploited its clients to the max with conflicted advice while taking high management fees all the way.
The Dixon name may disappear, and the E&P Group may be taken over, but devastated clients and trashed portfolios are left behind forever.