Partnership faces probe into adviser ‘inducements’

Partnership Assurance is thought to be one of the two firms which has been referred to the regulator’s enforcement division in relation to concerns it may have breached guidance in relation to ‘inducements’ for adviser distribution, FTAdviser understands.

The FCA yesterday (18 September) revealed that two firms have been referred to its enforcement division for potential rule breaches, in a paper in which it levelled broader criticism at providers and advisers over conflicts of interest ranging from provider hospitality and training to commercial arrangements such as adviser firm panels.

The watchdog said it was concerned such ‘inducements’ were undermining the Retail Distribution Review objectives of removing product bias, which led to the banning of commission.

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According to a report from FTAdviser sister title the Financial Times, a contact close to the regulator confirmed Partnership was one of the two firms.

A spokesperson for Partnership said: “As a matter of policy we never comment on conversations between ourselves and the Prudential Regulation Authority or FCA.”

In spring of this year (25 April), Partnership and Openwork revealed the details of a £15m deal which made Partnership the restricted network’s sole provider of enhanced and standard annuities.

Although Openwork would not comment, a spokesperson firmly denied that the company is the second firm which was referred to the FCA’s enforcement division.

In 2010, Partnership also bought a 50 per cent stake in Gateway Specialist Advice Services, the retirement referral arm of Sesame Bankhall Group.

Partnership is also one of several firms on Sesame Bankhall Group’s restricted advice panel, along with Aegon, Aviva, Friends Life, LV=, Prudential, PruProtect and Zurich.

Sesame refused to either confirm or deny that it was the second firm referred to enforcement.