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Adviser is banned over pension transfer errors

The FSA has banned Unwin Financial Services director Stuart Unwin from working in senior financial services roles after an investigation found “serious shortcomings” in the company’s occupational pension transfer advice.

Unwin, who is based in Cambridgeshire, has been banned from performing a significant influence function in relation to any regulated financial services activity.

The FSA first announced its intention to ban Unwin in a decision notice in March 2011. Unwin initially referred the decision to the Upper Tribunal but later withdrew the appeal.

The case was one of the first to be made public by the regulator where there was an ongoing appeal against enforcement action.

The FSA says that between January 2006 and November 2008, Unwin failed to put in place adequate systems and controls to ensure occupational pension transfer advice given by his firm was suitable.

Unwin also failed to ensure the advice was signed off by a pension transfer specialist. Both these issues had previously been highlighted to Unwin by the FSA.

The FSA also found Unwin delegated compliance responsibilities to an individual without checking the standard of their work.

Unwin also failed to ensure the effective monitoring of his sales staff, including trainee advisers.

FSA head of retail enforcement Tom Spender says: “Occupational pension transfers are complicated and risky transactions, very often not in the customer’s best interest. Put simply, Unwin has shown he was not fit and proper to perform a significant influence function at the firm.”

Equity Partners UK managing director Kevin Tooze says: “The words ’occupational pension transfer’ should immediately ring alarm bells for advisers. Many IFAs start from the premise that a transfer should not take place as to match company schemes privately can be extremely expensive.”

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