FCA cracks down on adviser operating post-RDR without authorisation

FCA cracks down on adviser operating post-RDR without authorisation

The FCA has banned Simon Varley and fined him £68,300 for providing investment advice to clients when he was not qualified or approved to do so.

The regulator said Varley knowingly performed a controlled function without approval and said he is not a “fit and proper” person.

Varley worked at Dickinsons Financial Management, a small advisory firm where he held a customer adviser function (CF30) until January 2013. 

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Following the Retail Distribution Review, the FCA introduced rules requiring that advisers hold a minimum level of qualification to be approved for a CF30 function. 

Although his CF30 approval was removed in January 2013 by the FCA at his request, Varley still continued to advise clients between January 2013 and September 2017.

According to the FCA, Varley misled fellow directors by providing false information about sitting and passing the relevant exams required for him to continue advising. 

He also falsely claimed he had applied to the FCA for approval as a CF30 but that the regulator had not updated the Financial Services Register, but no application was ever made.

The regulator said Varley knowingly misled the FCA into believing that only one person at Dickinsons was providing retail investment advice to clients instead of two. 

He also provided false information to Dickinsons’ professional indemnity insurance providers about the qualifications he held, in order to be insured to advise clients after 2013.

The false information provided to Dickinsons’ PII providers meant his advice was deemed to be uninsured. 

According to the regulator, Varley’s actions led to Dickinsons going into voluntary liquidation and being dissolved.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: ‘Mr Varley deliberately lied about his position and his misconduct continued for a number of years, potentially creating a risk of loss to customers. 

“He continued to abuse his position of trust as a director, proving that he lacks both honesty and integrity and poses a serious risk to consumers and to confidence in the financial system.

"Today’s ban should act as a deterrent to other senior individuals who abuse a position of trust."

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