Thursday, 09 May 2019 10:11

£76m pension transfer firms acted ‘without integrity’ says FCA

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The FCA has today published Decision Notices in respect of three firms and five individuals who it says acted “without integrity” over pension transfers which affected 2,000 customers and £76m in pension assets.

The firms were named as Financial Page Ltd, Henderson Carter Associates Limited and Bank House Investment Management Limited and individuals Andrew Page, Thomas Ward, Aiden Henderson, Robert Ward and Tristan Freer.

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The Decision Notices outline the reasons for the FCA’s decision to take the following disciplinary actions against each of the parties:

 

Firm/individual

Sanction

Financial Page Ltd (FPL) (in liquidation)

Public Censure

Andrew Page (Director of FPL)                               

Prohibition and penalty of £321,033

Thomas Ward (unapproved de facto director of FPL) 

Prohibition and penalty of £416,558

Henderson Carter Associates Limited (HCA) (in liquidation)

Public Censure

Aiden Henderson (Director of HCA)

Prohibition and penalty of £179,179

Bank House Investment Management Limited (BHIM)

Penalty of £311,639

Robert Ward (Director of BHIM)                            

Prohibition and penalty of £88,100

Tristan Freer (Director of BHIM)                           

Prohibition and penalty of £52,725

 

Financial Page Ltd (FPL) (in liquidation), Henderson Carter Associates Limited (HCA) (in liquidation) and Bank House Investment Management Limited (BHIM)

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 (Hennessy Jones Limited and City Administration Limited).

No allegation of wrongdoing was made against Hennessy Jones Limited and its directors, Mark Stephen and James King, or City Administration Limited in any of the Decision Notices related to the above actions.

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.

The FCA says that 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.

 

In total, 2,004 customers invested approximately £76m of their pension assets.

As at 29 January, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme had paid compensation of £26.8m to 1,106 customers of FPL, HCA and BHIM in relation to the above matter and is investigating further claims.

The FCA says directors Andrew Page (FPL), Aiden Henderson (HCA), Robert Ward (BHIM) and Tristan Freer (BHIM) should have known that the products were unlikely to be suitable for retail customers, except in very limited circumstances, but acted “recklessly” in closing their minds to the obvious risks.

They were all approved persons in a controlled function at their firms and so should have known that by using the pension review and advice process they were acting “recklessly”.

The regulator also alleged the directors acted “dishonestly by providing false and/or misleading information to the FCA, in some cases on more than one occasion”.

It was also said that Thomas Ward, who acted as a director for FPL, was not approved by the FCA to do so and in his capacity as a de facto director acted “without integrity”.

Mr Ward was alleged to have “disregarded the interests of FPL’s customers and showed a willingness to enrich himself at their expense”.

The FCA considers that Mr Ward also took “deliberate steps to control and influence the information that FPL disclosed to the FCA and encouraged Mr Page to withhold important information and deliberately drafted communications that were false and/or misleading”.                           

Andrew Page, Thomas Ward, Aiden Henderson, Robert Ward, Tristan Freer and BHIM have referred their Decision Notices to the Upper Tribunal where the parties will present their respective cases.

Any findings in the Decision Notices are therefore provisional and reflect the FCA’s belief as to what occurred and how it considers their behaviour should be characterised.

The Upper Tribunal will determine what, if any, is the appropriate action for the FCA to take, and will remit the matter to the FCA with such directions as the Upper Tribunal considers appropriate to give effect to its determination.

The proposed action outlined in the Decision Notices will have no effect pending the determination of the case by the Tribunal.

The matter continues.

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 09 May 2019 16:01
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