Helm Godfrey ‘deeply regrets’ Ucis sales standards lapse

Helm Godfrey has confirmed that it is under regulatory investigation for its sales of unregulated collective investment schemes between 2007 and 2010.

The London-based advice firm also confirmed that it was commissioned by the Financial Conduct Authority to prepare a skilled persons report, also known as a Section 166, about its sales of Ucis between 2007 and 2010 which is currently being prepared.

Helm Godfrey said it awaits the outcome of the report and “in the meantime we are co-operating fully and openly with the skilled person and the regulator in every way”.

Article continues after advert

The firm added that since the period in question it has made major amendments to its processes around the sale of Ucis.

Earlier this year, the FCA announced a ban on the promotion of Ucis to the “vast majority” of retail investors from 1 January 2014.

But, in response to industry concern, both venture capital trusts and enterprise investment schemes have been exempted from the regulator’s ban.

In its final rules on banning the marketing of Ucis, the FCA said it means promotions of these riskier and often “very complex fund structures” will generally be restricted, within the retail market, to sophisticated investors and high-net-worth individuals - those with an annual income of at least £100,000 or net investible assets exceeding £250,000, for whom the products are more likely to be suitable.

Graham Cross, chief executive of Helm Godfrey, said: “We deeply regret any lapse in standards of compliance with the rules about sales of Ucis. We have thoroughly revised our processes and systems in the three years since the issue became apparent and our due diligence is now among the most robust in the advisory marketplace.

“Helm Godfrey has an excellent record of looking after its clients and we are able and willing to make good any customer detriment that is identified. We believe the business is strongly placed to succeed in the post-RDR environment.”

Danby Bloch, chairman of Helm Godfrey, added: “We are continuing to investigate whether under our former Ucis advice process any unsuitable investments were made or losses to client portfolios have resulted from the Ucis sales in question. If this were to be established, then suitable redress would be made.”

Helm Godfrey said is is unable to comment further on the possible outcome of the report because it is still in the course of preparation.