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Celebrity adviser Henderson sentenced

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Former financial planner Sam Henderson has been sentenced to a two-year good behaviour bond and fined $10,000 after being convicted of issuing defective disclosure documents and dishonest conduct.

Mr Henderson pleaded guilty to charges laid by the corporate regulator that he lied to clients about holding a masters degree in commerce. The false claim was made in his book One-Page Financial Plan, as well as in presentations to prospective clients, brochures, interviews and on his company website, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) said.

Sydney-based Mr Henderson, once a prominent financial adviser hosting a show on Sky News and making guest appearances on TV, pleaded guilty to one “rolled-up” charge of dishonest conduct and two counts of knowingly giving a defective disclosure document about his tertiary qualifications.

In handing down her sentence last week, Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson noted the need for the court to send a message to the community at large that being a financial adviser is a specialist position and marketing material and websites need to be correct.

She applied a 25% discount to the sentence due Mr Henderson’s guilty plea.

ASIC banned Mr Henderson in July last year from providing financial services for three years after finding he failed to act in his clients’ best interest and did not provide appropriate advice or prioritise his clients’ needs when giving advice.

He also failed to properly assess a client’s existing deferred benefit superannuation products which led to a loss of several thousand dollars.

ASIC had originally filed three counts of dishonest conduct against him in legal action which followed an investigation into financial firm Henderson Maxwell, where he was a director. A dishonest conduct offence carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.

ASIC’s investigation began after evidence of misconduct was presented during the Hayne royal commission hearings in 2018.