FCA issues fines of over £1m following ‘significant’ losses to pension customers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined five directors of financial advice firms a total of over £1m and prohibited them from working in financial services after they caused “significant” losses to pension customers.

The Upper Tribunal found Andrew Page, Thomas Ward, Aiden Henderson, Robert Ward and Tristan Freer had failed to act with integrity having either acted dishonestly or recklessly.

Each had been directors at failed financial advice firms (Financial Page Ltd, Henderson Carter Associates Limited and Bank House Investment Limited) that provided unsuitable advice to over 2,000 customers, causing them to place their pensions in high-risk financial products in self-invested personal pensions in which Hennessy Jones, an unauthorised firm, had a significant financial interest.

These customers had been referred to them by Hennessy Jones, which was also involved in designing the pension advice process used by these financial advice firms.

The scheme caused losses of over £50m to more than 2,000 customers, who have now been compensated by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

All five individuals allowed their “instincts and values to be overridden” and their judgement to be “compromised for personal financial gain” the tribunal found and, due to the scale of their shortcomings, very large penalties were imposed for directors of small IFA firms as a result.

FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight, Mark Steward, commented: “No reputable financial adviser should recommend that people put their entire pension savings in high-risk investments.

“Customers were misled into believing that they would get independent and impartial advice, but their interests were reprehensively betrayed in this case.

“This case also places firms’ relationships with unauthorised introducers in the spotlight. All firms should pay heed and scrutinise these relationships to ensure standards of integrity, due diligence and fair treatment of customers are uppermost.”

Page was fined £321,033 plus interest, Thomas Ward received a fine of £416,558 plus interest, Henderson was fined £179,179 plus interest, Robert Ward received a fine of £88,100, and Freer was fined £40,736 plus interest

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