Financial Conduct Authority 

Watchdog criticises FCA over Connaught review

Watchdog criticises FCA over Connaught review

The Complaints Commissioner has expressed concern about the lack of progress the Financial Conduct Authority has made in setting up a review into the way its predecessor regulated the Connaught Income Series 1 fund.

But the FCA has said it will begin this review following the conclusion of its enforcement investigation.

In 2016 the Complaints Commissioner found the FCA “shifted the focus” away from its regulatory failings onto advisers who sold Connaught funds to their clients and, in response to this, the regulator agreed to appoint a third party to conduct a review.

But since then Antony Townsend, the commissioner, has received several additional complaints relating to Connaught.

He said: "I remain concerned to learn that there appears to have been little progress in relation to establishing the external review, despite the comments in my November 2016 decisions about preparatory work to avoid further unnecessary delay.

"While the FCA are right to be careful to ensure that continuing enforcement action is not prejudiced, there is an important issue of public confidence to be addressed.

"A more open approach by the FCA to these matters would be welcomed by me and the Connaught investors who have been waiting a very long time for some answers.

"I shall continue to seek confidential updates from the FCA on progress, and urge them to update the investors whenever they can to provide reassurance that progress is being made."

In March 2015 the FCA decided to investigate the activities of Capita and Blue Gate in connection with their roles as operators of the Connaught fund.

Capita Financial Managers was operator until September 2009 when it was replaced by another company.

Last November the FCA announced that Capita Financial Managers would pay up to £66m to investors who had suffered a loss as a result of their investment.

This brought an end to its investigation of Capita, but the regulator has said other aspects of its investigation are ongoing.

In response to this, the FCA said it welcomed Mr Townsend's decision to defer the complaints.

In a statement the FCA said: "The public censure brought to an end the FCA’s investigation in relation to CFM. Other aspects of the FCA’s investigation into the operation of the fund are continuing.

"The FCA will normally publish the outcome of enforcement action."

The FCA added that work is currently underway to distribute the £66m among investors.

Following a complaint in 2016, Mr Townsend found the FCA's predecessor, the Financial Services Authority’s, approach was "uncoordinated, fragmented, and was focussed upon narrow issues of jurisdiction rather than overall consumer detriment".

As a result of this the FCA agreed to conduct a review once its investigation was completed.

While Mr Townsend accepted this was a reasonable approach, he said the FCA should start some preparatory work on the review.

damian.fantato@ft.com

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