John Trowbridge has made a rare statement in response to allegations by risk advice firm Bombora Advice, calling the claims “incorrect” and “contentious”.
In its submission to the parliamentary joint committee on corporations and financial services life insurance inquiry, Bombora Advice said the process around the Trowbridge review “was intended to be an industry agreed response to the ASIC Report 413”.
However, Bombora said Mr Trowbridge changed the terms of reference before the final report was published.
“The recommendations in the final report almost exactly mirrors the FSC submission [to the life insurance inquiry] and, as far as we can tell, no one else’s,” Bombora said in its submission.
“Trowbridge, with FSC approval and despite AFA protests, changed the terms of reference before the final report was published so it became a report of the chair, no longer an industry agreed response.”
In response, Mr Trowbridge said neither he nor the FSC changed the terms of reference.
“Instead, the AFA, being dissatisfied with some of the recommendations in my final draft report, attempted to negotiate changes on the basis that the terms of reference required ‘an industry agreed response’,” he said.
“As noted above, this was not the basis of my review, yet one of the AFA representatives on the LIAWG [Life Insurance and Advice Working Group] chose to make and publicise this allegation.”
Mr Trowbridge said the process was not intended to be an industry agreed response, but an industry-agreed process supporting a review in which his independence “was guaranteed at the outset”.
“There is a fundamental difference between an ‘industry agreed response’ and an ‘industry agreed process’ or, equivalently, a process initiated and supported by the industry but carefully constructed to preserve my independence,” he said.