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‘Tinkering Jew’ slur costs planner



THE AUSTRALIAN JUNE 30, 2015 12:00AM

By Gina Rushton

A financial planner who called Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg a “tinkering Jew” in a stream of social media abuse has lost his professional licence and will​be subject to an investigation by a peak industry ​representative body.

The self-licensed Libertas ­Financial Planning has termin­ated the authorised repres­entative status of​​ Retirement Wealth Advisers. Brisbane financial planner James Howarth is the principal.

Mr Howarth attacked ​Mr Frydenberg on Twitter for supporting a proposal on the ­remuneration of life insurance sales staff that would cut large upfront commissions for financial advisers.

“What a cock sucker. First course of action was to regulate insurance salaries. Tinkering Jew,” Mr Howarth tweeted to his 5855 followers.

Another said: “Get your Josh Frydenberg ‘Central Planning Jew’ punching bag.”

The changes, first proposed by the life insurance industry, would cap controversial advance commissions to 60 per cent of a policy’s premium in the first year.

Upfront commissions on retail life insurance have been as high as 120 per cent but advisers would face a commission cap of 20 per cent on life insurance premiums under the proposals.

Libertas director Mark Euvard told The Australian that Mr Howarth’s behaviour was “inappropriate and unacceptable” and did not reflect the culture of the dealer group. “He has been served notice that his licence has been ­revoked,” Mr Euvard said.

Asked whether it was necessary to voice his concerns using ­derogatory language and with reference to race and religion, Mr Howarth responded: “Yes, I stand by my comments.”

Mr Howarth’s LinkedIn profile says he worked as an “equity analyst” at Goldman Sachs for more than six years. “According to our records, it doesn’t appear that he ever worked for Goldman Sachs,” a spokesman from the ­investment firm said.

The Financial Services Institute of Australasia,​of which Mr Howarth is a fellow, has launched an investigation into the incident, chief executive Russell Morris said.

“The comments reported by The Australian are offensive and have been referred to Finsia’s disciplinary committee for review,” the associations head of corporate affairs and policy, ­Caroline Falshaw, said.

The association may then expel or suspend membership.

The Association of Financial Advisers “condemned inappropriate and racist comments” made by Mr Howarth.

“If he were (a member of AFA), this would see him sanctioned and his membership terminated,” the association’s chief executive, Brad Fox, said.

Mr Frydenberg, who is Jewish, said he blocked Mr Howarth on Twitter after the offensive comments.

“This nasty, personal and ­derogatory language is not becoming of a financial adviser, let alone anyone else, and is completely over the top,” he said on Sunday.

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