His own finance business website says about himself “Sam is in hot demand for a reason” and as well as hosting a Sky News program is “the ‘go-to’ finance expert for Network Ten’s The Project and Nine’s Today show”.
But that all came crashing down on Tuesday when the TV star and finance guru was exposed as offering disastrous financial advice and getting staff to impersonate a client in phone calls to her superannuation fund.
He also faked his own CV, claiming on it to have a Masters of Commerce, and funnelled clients’ money into investment schemes in which he held shares.
Bombshell revelations at the Royal Commission into banking have revealed the practices of Mr Henderson.
The CEO and Chief Financial Adviser of the company Henderson Maxwell, his full name is Samuel Maxwell Henderson.
On his company’s website, against the backdrop of a beaming photograph of Sam Henderson is a blue prize winner’s rosette with the words “AFA Practice of the Year WINNER 2016”.
The Association of Financial Advisers’ top prize was a drawcard for prospective clients, who are told on Mr Henderson’s site “we’re not just another boring old finance firm” and “we believe in innovation, growth, honesty and the power of community”.
His personal website has videos of his TV spots giving advice about saving and superannuation and videos of his appearances at conferences and seminars.
But as revealed at the royal commission, his advice to one client was so bad it would have immediately triggered a $500,000 loss to her super fund.
Fair Work commissioner Donna McKenna approached Mr Henderson for advice in 2016, attracted by his AFA award, TV appearances and articles in The Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald, Today show and Money Magazine.
The royal commission heard Ms McKenna was put off by Mr Henderson’s hard sell of a self managed super fund which charged outlandish fees.
Had she rolled over her money from her own deferred benefit superannuation scheme, she would have incurred a half million dollar penalty.
Mr Henderson later admitted that 84 per cent of his company’s clients were tipped into funds his company looks after.
Ms McKenna has lodged a formal complaint with the Financial Planning Association about Mr Henderson’s conduct and advice.
“If someone with my education and occupational background hits a wall when you engage proper disciplinary processes,” Ms McKenna told the commission.
“What hope would someone who doesn’t have that occupational background and skills, what hope would they have?”
But it was tape recordings of the a phone call by one of Mr Henderson’s staff impersonating Ms McKenna that sent out shockwaves on Tuesday.
Played during the hearings by counsel assisting the commission, Rowena Orr QC, the employee can be heard impersonating Ms McKenna to obtain details about her super.
The staff member is clearly told more than once that the half million dollar penalty would be applied if the fund was rolled over.
Mr Henderson told the commission that the information was never passed on, and he was “horrified”.
But he agreed when asked by Ms Orr if he instructed the employee to make the call, “I don’t recall, but most likely”.
Asked how many times the staffer made phone calls where she impersonated Ms McKenna, Mr Henderson replied, “Four or six. I think it might have been six”.
Following the hearings on Tuesday night the Australian Financial Review and Sky News sacked Mr Henderson.
Sky News Business said Mr Henderson no longer appeared on the channel, and that his last appearance was on April 13, one day after he was summoned to give evidence at the royal commission.
But his websites still trumpet his media prowess on TV and “in a host of print media … Sam is also [a] best-selling author … and a popular keynote speaker”.
“When Sam isn’t helping clients grow their nest egg and thrive in retirement, he chills out at home on the northern beaches with his partner and three kids, skis, surfs, sweats it out at Crossfit (with lots of other sweaty, crazy fit people) and reads about business and finance.
“(Yep, he still loves to read about business and finance in his ‘downtime’ — and that’s the kind of adviser you want by your side.)”
In the chatty advice on the About Us page of his website is written the spiel, “A recent survey found that almost half of all Australians fear they will not have enough money for a comfortable lifestyle when they retire.
“We want to give you peace of mind knowing that your money is invested smartly and in safe hands.”
“We’re the leaders in our field for a reason. It’s simple: our clients trust us.
“But despite being busy in the media, we never lose sight of the lasting difference we can make in your life — it’s not just about the money, it’s about making your money work for you.
“At Henderson Maxwell, we’re 100 per cent focused on you.”