FCA taken to information watchdog over adviser complaint

FCA taken to information watchdog over adviser complaint

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been taken to the Information Commissioner over an adviser's "inaccurate" entry on the regulator's register.

In the latest chapter in a lengthy dispute between Alistair Hinton and the FCA, the adviser argued his entry on the register of regulated firms was still inaccurate despite several years of attempting to have this issue resolved. 

The dispute centres on a register entry which gave the impression both him and his wife were directors of a firm which the regulator had publicly censured.

Mr Hinton had initially complained to the FSA in 2009, when he was told rectifying the matter by amending the register would be too costly but the regulator had added "guidance notes" to clarify the situation.

Unhappy about the amendment, which had made the issue "as misleading as ever", the adviser took the matter to the Complaints Commissioner, but it emerged the regulator would be unable to address the complaint because doing so could cost up to £100,000.

Mr Hinton said: "All of these discrepancies might in certain circumstances be no more than merely academic; however, when the regulator creates false associations between individuals/firms and 'principal firms' in cases when the latter has become subject to its public censure, the impression given to register users who read those associations is clearly as negative as anyone would expect them to be, which is why we have very good reason to regard them as defamatory by association."

The complaint goes back to when Mr Hinton and his wife were directors of one firm which was an appointed representative of an another - Berkeley Independent Advisers - until 2004.

In 2005 Berkeley was publicly censured by the FSA and in 2009 the adviser became aware that his and his wife’s entries on the register gave the impression they had been directors there and undertook controlled functions, which was incorrect.

As of yesterday afternoon (28 August) the FCA's register says Mr Hinton and his wife were directors of Berkeley between 2001 and 2004, though it does specify they were appointed representatives.

The adviser's initial complaint had prompted to FCA to commit to a review of the way its register was designed, to make it more flexible.

The FCA has declined to comment.