The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has requested that over £1m in fines be handed to the five directors of firms involved in recommending unsuitable transfer advice.
In a decision notice published today, 9 May, the regulator said that the directors of Financial Page Ltd (FPL), Henderson Carter Associates Limited (HCA) and Bank House Investment Management (BHIM) should be heavily sanctioned for “advice provided in their name”.
According to the FCA, 2,004 customers of the firms invested approximately £76m of their pension assets. So far the Financial Services Compensation Scheme has paid £26.8m to 1,106 of the customers.
The FCA said: “The FCA considers that FPL, HCA and BHIM had little meaningful oversight and involvement in the advice provided to customers in their name. They adopted a pension review and advice process which involved outsourcing important functions to unauthorised third parties.”
As a result, FPL director Andrew Page and “de facto” director Thomas Ward face fines of £321,033 and £416,558 respectively, while HCA director Aiden Henderson has been handed a £179,179 sanction.
BHIM directors Robert Ward (£88,100) and Tristan Freer (£52,725) also face fines. The FCA has also recommended that the directors are prohibited from undertaking and function related to regulated activity.
“HCA, FPL and BHIM held themselves out to customers as providing bespoke independent investment advice based on a comprehensive and fair analysis of the whole market, but that did not reflect the reality of the service that was provided,” it added.
“In reality customers were recommended pension switches and pension transfers to products that invested in high risk, illiquid assets which were unlikely to be suitable for them.”
As part of its decision, the regulator said that the directors “acted recklessly” and “dishonestly” in that they should have known the products were unsuitable.
Ward was not FCA regulated and he regulator said that he disregarded the interest of his customers and showed willingness “to enrich himself at their expense”.
The final decision will be made by the Upper Tribunal based on the FCA’s recommendations.
FPL and HCA have already been placed into liquidation.
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