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FSA bans director from senior posts over pension transfer failings

The FSA has banned a director from working in senior financial services roles after an investigation found “serious shortcomings” in the way the company advised on occupational pension transfers.

Stuart Unwin, director of Cambridgeshire-based firm Unwin Financial Services Limited, has been banned from performing a significant influence function in relation to any regulated financial services activity.

The ban follows an investigation by the FSA that exposed failings in UFSL’s systems and controls, compliance, and occupational pension transfer recommendations.

The UFSL case, along with one other, was the first to be made public by the FSA where there is an ongoing appeal against enforcement action. 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 tribunal reference.

The regulator says 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 that the advice was signed off by a pension transfer specialist. Both of these issues had previously been brought to Unwin’s notice by the FSA.

The FSA also found Unwin delegated compliance responsibilities to an individual without checking the standard of that individual’s work, despite knowing the individual lacked experience. Unwin failed to ensure the effective monitoring of his sales staff, including trainee advisers.

The FSA says it sees the failings as serious because they exposed customers to the serious risk of receiving unsuitable occupational pension transfers advice.

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 that he was not fit and proper to perform a significant influence function at the firm – and because of that he has been prohibited.”

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