FSA issues prohibition over pension transfer advice
Stuart Unwin, of Cambridgeshire, owner of Unwin Financial Services Limited, received the prohibition following an investigation by the FSA that revealed serious shortcomings in UFSL’s systems and controls, compliance function and in the way it made recommendations.
Between January 2006 and November 2008, the regulator said, Mr Unwin failed to implement and operate adequate systems and controls at UFSL so as to be able to ensure that occupational pension transfer advice given by his firm was suitable.
Mr Unwin also failed to ensure that the advice was signed off by a pension transfer specialist, the FSA said.
The FSA also found that Mr Unwin delegated compliance responsibilities to an individual without checking the standard of that individual’s work, despite knowing that the individual lacked experience. Mr Unwin failed to ensure the effective monitoring of his sales staff, including trainee advisers.
Tom Spender, the FSA’s head of retail enforcement, said: “Occupational pension transfers are complicated and risky transactions, very often not in the customer’s best interest.
“Mr Unwin failed to ensure that UFSL’s occupational pension transfers were conducted in line with our requirements – even after the FSA had visited the firm and pointed out this area of concern. Furthermore, delegating responsibility for the firm’s compliance to an inexperienced, unsupervised member of staff was naïve and irresponsible.
“Put simply, Mr Unwin has shown that he was not fit and proper to perform a significant influence function at the firm – and because of that he has been prohibited.”
The FSA previously announced that it wanted to prohibit Mr Unwin in a decision notice dated March 2011. He referred the decision to the Upper Tribunal the same month but, following further discussions with the regulator, recently agreed to settle the reference.