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FSA criticised for failing to act earlier in de Vere case

AWD Chase de Vere Wealth Management’s pension misselling could have been identified years ago if the regulator had handled the firm’s previous mergers adequately, according to compliance consultant Adam Samuel.

Last week, the FSA fined the firm £1.12m for serious failings in its pension transfer, pension annuity and income withdrawal business that lead to misselling.

Samuel says: “It is clear that the 2005 move, which brought the company together in its current form, was mismanaged by the individuals involved, including the regulator. Many of the compliance problems discussed are as old as the industry itself and could have been identified relatively easily in advance.”

Chase de Vere Financial Solutions was fined £165,000 in December 2003 for bad financial promotions. Read Independent Financial Advisers, the company’s retirement planning arm, was fined £150,000 over pension unlocking in 2004.

Samuel says the regulator has been unhappy about the systems and controls of the business since November 2005 but significant problems that were identified were not fixed until as late as January this year.

Samuel says: “There were major structural concerns in the way in which this firm handled compliance as late as November 2007.

“The regulator simply dropped the ball with a major nationwide advisory business that was never quite right.”

Samuel says it is “curious” that the final notice states the firm has no previous disciplinary record because the business is the result of a number of mergers.

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