The sad tale of the Taylors – brothers who took over their father’s financial advice business and gambled with elderly clients' cash – is an all too familiar one.
Brothers Alan Taylor, 38, of St Stephen's Road, Norwich, and Russell Taylor, 37, of Trunch Road, Mundesley, admitted in March they defrauded 237 customers out of almost £17m from 2008 to 2015.
It enabled them to purchase luxury items, including an Aston Martin, a yacht and 25 hours' fly time with NetJets, which came to around £6,000 per hour in the air.
On Thursday afternoon (3 May) at King's Lynn Crown Court Judge Anthony Bate sentenced Alan Taylor to six years in prison and Russell Taylor to five.
Was it the Financial Conduct Authority who first had concerns about the pair and turned to the police?
No. It was clients who became concerned about what was happening with their cash and went to the police, who brought the brothers to justice.
The regulator is awash with data it collects on advisers but clients simply don’t turn to the authorities with concerns – they only turn to the police once they are convinced something has gone seriously awry.
That made me – once again - think about the data that is collected about financial advisers.
According to the regulator, the data it collects through Retail Mediation Activities returns is an important part of their supervisory approach “because it helps us to reduce the risk of poor consumer outcomes in the retail investment market".
The FCA uses the data to assess firms’ compliance with threshold conditions and other requirements, for example its rules on adviser and consultancy charging, conduct of business and prudential requirements.
In addition, the regulator claims the data allows it to spot trends in individual firms and in the market as a whole - to identify the firms to which we should allocate supervisory attention.
Could collection of a different type of data collection have helped flag the Taylor’s activities to the regulator and stopped them before they managed to leave their clients £17m worse off?
Would a client satisfaction survey have flagged up concerns about the Taylor brothers at an earlier point before so much cash had been lost or blown on luxury cars?
Data can either enlighten you or you can find yourself buried beneath it. It is vital the right kind of information is collected and acted upon.