Three men have been banned from working in the financial services industry by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA); and another has been banned from holding key positions
Today The FCA banned three men who were associated with two independent financial advisors (IFAs) and were appointed to advise six occupational pension schemes. The FCA found that this advice led to the affected schemes unnecessarily moving around their investments, generating over £4 million in commission. The members of the affected pension schemes could also face lower retirement incomes, as pension scheme assets were placed in potentially unsuitable high-risk investments.
Tracey McDermott, FCA director of enforcement and financial crime said: “When it comes to pension funds, people expect their investments to be carefully managed given the potential impact on their retirement income. This makes the behaviour of this quartet particularly disgraceful. The FCA will not hesitate to act where we find inept or dishonest individuals.”
The FCA stepped in to investigate the behaviour of individuals approved to offer financial services. The investigation concluded that Michael Conway and Andrew Powell lacked integrity; whilst Martin Gwynn and Daniel Conway were incompetent, and incapable of properly discharging their duties.
- Michael Conway was a director of CBW Pensions Forensics Limited, but failed to disclose that he stood to gain financially from advice offered to CBW Pensions Forensics Limited by an IFA – G&G Financial Services Limited (G&G). In April 2010 he actively influenced the financial advice given by Andrew Powell on behalf of G&G for personal gain, and on one occasion facilitated a sham introducer agreement between G&G and a taxi company to disguise a payment of £56,000. £2.1 million of the total commission generated by the IFAs was paid to Michael Conway.
- Andrew Powell acted as independent advisor to CBW Pensions Forensics Limited whilst employed by G&G. Despite raising concerns about the suitability of the investment, he recommended that the affected pension schemes should invest £8 million in a high-risk and illiquid property fund chosen by Michael Conway. Powell personally benefitted by allowing CBW Pensions Forensics Limited to influence his advice between March 2010 and April 2010.
- Martin Gwynn owned G&G and all its shares. Between March 2007 and September 2010 he failed to seek the necessary authorisation from the FCA’s predecessor, the Financial Services Authority, when appointing Andrew Powell as a director, and didn’t properly monitor the advice Powell offered to the affected pension schemes. Gwynn also failed to take reasonable steps to investigate payments to Michael Conway and other third parties.
- Daniel Conway was a director of Staverton Wealth Management Limited (Staverton), which was partially owned by Michael Conway. Daniel Conway was appointed with no prior experience of advising occupational pension schemes. Between January 2007 and April 2010, the FCA found he failed to take steps to understand the requirements of his role, or offer independent or suitable advice.
The FCA’s decision is to safeguard consumers’ interests resulted in, Michael Conway, Andrew Powell and Martin Gwynn received industry bans; and Daniel Conway has been stopped from performing any roles designated as ‘controlled functions’ by the FCA.
This decision reflects the FCA’s objective of securing appropriate protection for consumers, and its intention to hold approved people to account if they fail to meet the expected standards of integrity and professionalism.
The FCA has worked closely with The Pension Regulator to take action against the responsible individuals and track down assets located outside the UK. The new trustee appointed by TPR has recovered a significant proportion of the relevant funds on behalf of the affected pension schemes.