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FCA fines investment consultant over Vanguard conflict

An investment consultant has been banned and fined £20,000 by the FCA for failing to declare conflicts of interest.

As a non-executive director at two mutual societies, Angela Burns was asked for guidance on investment management services, and participated in conversations about Vanguard, which had just opened UK offices.

She simultaneously solicited work from Vanguard by referring to her non-executive director positions with the two mutual societies, while providing them with what they believed to be impartial advice about engaging Vanguard for their asset management services.

While working as a non-executive director for the two mutuals, Burns was also seeking consultancy work with Vanguard and referred to the NED positions to gain credibility.

Burns did not inform either party of the conflict of interest and failed to inform the mutual societies of her intention to undertake employment with Vanguard.

The FCA has banned Burns from acting as a non-executive director in the future and issued a £20,000 fine.

The final notice follows Burns’ referral of the’s FCA initial decision notice to the Upper Tribunal six years ago, a further appeal to the Court of the Appeal and the Supreme Court’s denial of her application for permission to appeal last month.

Vanguard chairman to step down

The regulator’s executive director of enforcement and market overnight Mark Steward says Burns’ behaviour was “inappropriate and inconsistent.”

He says: “Burns placed herself in a position where her duty as a non-executive director may have conflicted with concurrent opportunities she was pursuing.  This was neither disclosed nor, as a consequence, could it be addressed by the board.

“Directors have a duty to disclose or avoid conflicts of interest, so they can be addressed by the board.”

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