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FSA bans mortgage broker for TCF failings

The FSA has banned mortgage broker Noel Heaney, trading as Heaney Finance, after identifying wide-ranging management and control problems across his business and for failing to treat his customers fairly.

The FSA says Heaney, who is a sole trader based in Northern Ireland, lacks integrity and is not competent to run an authorised firm.

The regulator found that Heaney entrusted the running of his business to an inexperienced employee and did not ensure that his advisers received adequate training and support.

The regulator says Heaney’s customers were exposed to the risk of entering into mortgage contracts which were unsuitable for them because advisers were unclear about the sales process, they were not properly supervised and their work was not properly monitored.

The FSA also saw evidence that some customers may have used the business to submit mortgage applications containing false or misleading information.

In its final notice the FSA says: “There was no formal gathering of management information at your business, which might otherwise have enabled you to review patterns of business and to identify anomalies and risks.

“You therefore had no formal means of reviewing whether your business complied with regulatory requirements, such as the requirement to treat customers fairly, the requirement to take reasonable care to ensure the suitability of mortgage advice, and the requirement to take reasonable care to establish and maintain effective systems and controls for countering the risk of your business being used to further financial crime.”

Heaney failed to take remedial action identified by two compliance consultants as well as the FSA and he did not have a complaint handling procedure in place.

He was made bankrupt on January 15, 2009.

FSA director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole says: “This is a blatant example of a business man taking insufficient interest in the conduct of business written in his name and ignoring repeated warnings about its deficiencies.  Put simply, Heaney failed to treat his customers fairly and we are holding him to account for it.  

“This case also highlights the effectiveness of our small firms’ assessment programme where we engage with responsible small firms operating in the UK retail markets who recognise that they have obligations to their retail customers. But, to continue helping consumers, we must also continue to deal robustly with the firms and individuals who do not engage with us to ensure the fair treatment of their customers.”

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Comments

There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Thought you may find this of interest.

    Kerryanne

  2. Once again an adviser who milked it during the last 10 years, made a stack of cash and conveniently declared himself bankrupt!! (which is code-word for “all the money is hidden in China”). The people who suffer are the customers, genuine advisers, and the reputation of the industry!!!

  3. Another bad adviser gone but make sure that he does not reappear as something else.

  4. A number of things arise from above report.

    Little inconsistencies such as him being a ‘sole trader’ but leaving the running of the business to an ’employee’ and also having ‘advisers’ who he was supposed to train and support. This does not sound like a ‘sole trader’ business to me.

    I note that the FSA carefully words it’s comment on ‘exposing the business to the risk of being used by third parties for mortgage fraud’. No suggestion that anything untoward was found.

    ‘Risk’ can never be totally eliminated, indeed we face personal risks daily and in the long term so this is just another box ticking.

    All in all though he seems to have failed to run his business in a responsible and professional way and not acted on advice. On the above information this result was almost inevitable.

    Using the same logic, that it is the person in charge, be he manager, owner or ‘sole trader’, who is responsible for the failure to put in place and manage systems of control, then this should apply equally to all financial services businesses and indeed to the regulator itself. Not just SME’s.

    The FSA has taken away Noel Heaney’s authorisation, probably totally correctly, but what about the senior managements of large firms and managers within the regulator itself when systems are found to be inadequate or non-existent? Are these managers penalised by the Regulator? No of course not, they are excused because ‘they cannot be expected to know everything that is happening in their organisations’! If they are not capable of ‘managing’ then what are they being paid for?
    Instead they are rewarded, being offered bigger and better paid jobs and/or consultancies with the FSA itself.

    Trumpeting the ‘small firms assessment programme’ merely highlights the numbers game the FSA is currently playing for PR purposes. Lots and lots of ‘results’ (‘outcomes’ in the current idiom), people banned, firms shut down etc. etc. No examples of any real benefits actually ‘delivered’ to any consumer. Just that all this apparent activity must make everyone feel better ‘protected’. Smoke and mirrors! The FSA is just trying to find relevance for it’s own existence after it’s monumental regulatory failures, which have cost and will continue to cost the British taxpayer and UK Plc a fortune for the foreseeable future.

  5. Sole traders can, of course, employ people to work for them.

  6. The guy above is a typical IFA, loves the sound of his own voice…

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