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FSA is interviewing Park Row advisers

Former Park Row advisers still waiting to gain reauthorisation are being summoned by the regulator to attend interviews.

In a letter in response to an adviser’s enquiry, seen by Money Marketing, FSA chief executive Hector Sants admits the ongoing KPMG past business review has caused a significant delay in reauthorising advisers.

It says: “In some cases, where we believe the progress of an application can be more effectively dealt with by assessing an individual face to face, we may request the attendance of a candidate for interview. Such interviews are conducted on a voluntary basis and are, by their very nature, confidential. I can confirm that a small number of former Park Row advisers have attended such interviews.”

Park Row, which had 240 advisers, was wound up in November 2009. The FSA will not disclose how many advisers have been called for interview or how many have failed to get reauthorisation.

A law firm, which wants to remain anonymous, says it has taken four cases where authorisation applications were initially rejected by the FSA to the regulatory decisions committee and overturned all four cases.

KPMG, which was given the job of reviewing past business of Park Row advisers, is understood to have outsourced the work. KPMG was unavailable for comment.

An FSA spokeswoman says: “There is a statutory limit of up to three months when somebody applies for authorisation, whether they have been authorised before or not. We can extend that if there are concerns which mean we need to take more time. In any authorisation process, if we get to the point we need to interview a candidate, we will do.”


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There are 25 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. It is absolutely shocking that this process can take so long. In the meantime, an adviser is deprived of his or her ability to earn money and hence feed and clothe his or her family and clients will almost certainly go without advice.

    How this can be fair in any sense of the word, I do not know.

  2. Where we we be without the FSA, an organisation which gives the banks a free reign to rip clients off, overcharge and record record numbers of complaints and appears determined to drive out the Independant Financial Advice sector. I wonder who interviwed FSA senior management last year after they were fined by the OFT for bullying there own staff. Why are we putting up with this lot.

  3. Agree with Chris.
    And they have the gall to make us study ethics!

  4. Easy to blame the FSA on this one but reading between the lines, the quality of the business review appears to be a significant factor here.

  5. We are supposed to be professionals. If fellow professionals eg Solicitors / accountants firms are ‘wound up’, do they have this problem moving to other positions? I don’t think so. Depriving people of their right to work is an abuse. When Hector Sants becomes the deputy governor of the Bank if England and his other cohorts take their positions, I trust they will be similarly treated. It’s time we took this abomination to the Europen Court of Human Rights and had it denounced for the sham that it is! We need to take action now and stop this ‘financial holocaust’!

  6. This is how it works: FSA insist on an ‘Independent Expert Review’ which is carried out by KPMG who hand out the work to sub-contractors who are not expert in anything.

  7. Exactly Mike.
    Hector and the gang totally failed in their own remit and are rewarded with new, enhanced positions.Meanwhile they decide, from their lofty tower, whether or not Park Row advisers are fit for purpose. Apparently they cannot even get that right according to the RDC. Take note David.
    Financial holocaust is a strong statement to use but I am inclined to agree with you. We are at their mercy and the rest of the uk stands by bleating about human rights abuse in other countries whilst we face the same every day of our lives.
    Having to be interviewed by the fsa must be akin to being interviewed by the ss. They cannot murder you, that much is true, but they do have powers with no accountability that should not be tolerated in a so called democracy. Because of the fsa I am ashamed to be british and unable to speak out against HR issues in other countries. To do so would be sheer hypocracy.

  8. If the work was given to KPMG who then gave it to someone else to do, how much has KPMG been paid to just pass this on to a firm that obviously cannot cope? These are costs that we are being asked to pay? Is there any chance of me getting my nose in the trough on this one? Seems an easy job with little or no quality control issues. Seriously this is now a “restraint of trade” issue, class act solicitors please note!

  9. Once again we are missing the point just to FSA bash. Can’t you see this type of action, as harsh as it is to those individuals concened, is actually protecting the IFA market from potential disreputable individuals.

    I do agree about KPMG but then the so called Big 4 are nothing but Big Billers. I know personally that one of the Big 4 charges admin staff out at £175 per hour, yes per hour, so imagine what the bill is for this.

    As for the outsourcing that will indeed be to limited experienced so called ‘contractors’ who specialise in nothing more than basic Endowment and PPI complaints and are clueless when it comes to suitability of advice, conduct of business and products. You certainly won’t find main level 4 qualified individuals in that group of non-experts.

  10. Baron Bolligrew 14th April 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Hold on a minute…let me get this right…the FSA SUMMON Park Row advisers for an interview? So, the people who have not been allowed to work for 18 months, hence have had no income, will have to spend money to attend an inquisition in front of someone who is paid a salary and bonus for screwing up their jobs, propects and lives?
    This is farcical!
    Why don’t the FSA just hold their hands up and admit they’ve screwed up? No, that would not do would it? The FSA is never wrong…it is therefore omnipotent!
    As for KPMG….jobs for the boys isn’t it?
    I gather that when the FSA ‘requests’ this kind of audit you have to choose from one of 3 approved firms…each quoting the same fee! Closed shop or what!

  11. Frazer, Apart from the issue with KPMG you have no problem with the way the Park Row advisers have been treated.Therefore you would be more than happy to be on the receiving end of the same treatment ?

  12. @ Anonymous | 14 Apr 2011 4:02 pm

    It is not that I particularly agree with the way they have been treated and concede the 18 months wait is excessive, the KPMG review should have had specific instructions to be completed a lot quicker. But I do agree with the interview to ascertain if the individuals are of the required standard etc to be authorised.

    There is no doubt Park Row was a shambles and those at the top of the organisation have paid heavily for their errors. But lets not forget that if clients have been misadvised then there are, like it or not, advisers who are culpable for that.

    On that basis the FSA do need to sift through the applicants to ensure they are not those who are responsible.

    Its harsh but fair, what other proposal do you want carte blanche authorisation which includes those who have flaunted the rules. That is unfair on those in the industry who have followed the rules and probably lost out on business as a result.

  13. Frazer Maul | 14 Apr 2011 4:20 pm

    Frazer I’m sorry but you miss the point being made here, it is just not acceptable to leave people in a state of limbo for this length of time. On top of all that they are to be interviewed by who? Qualifed (level 4 – minumum) people who understand the advice process……. I would bet not!

  14. Frazer, It is blatently not fair to keep anyone hanging on for 18 months and in the case of at least 4 PR advisers wrongly deauthorise them.
    KPMG were presumably given their orders by the FSA, so where does the buck stop.
    I agree that there needs to be policies in place, to ensure advisers are of the required standard. To keep someone in limbo for 18 months is unforgivable. Rather than fsa bashing, others are simply stating their disgust at the abuse of power at the regulator.
    Can you imagine what these guys and their families have been through? Especially those who have done no wrong.This is simply not good enough. The FSA preaches TCF and ethics, Hector is into phlosophy and believes the culture of an organisation should come from the top.
    If this is the evidence we have of the culture at the fsa’ it is not one I would be happy to portray at my own firm.

  15. Baron Bolligrew 14th April 2011 at 5:10 pm

    @Frazer Maul | 14 Apr 2011 4:20 pm

    “Its harsh but fair, what other proposal do you want carte blanche authorisation which includes those who have flaunted the rules. That is unfair on those in the industry who have followed the rules and probably lost out on business as a result.”

    Wouldn’t you expect an 18-month review to have highlighted the individuals who should be interviewed/admonished or whatever?

    I would accept the interviews as being necessary just consider the the FSA callous in assuming that the advisers will have the time, money and motivation to attend a ‘blind’ interview.

    Isn’t this the type of interview where you are not allowed to take anyone to support you (as in legal advice, not financial)?

  16. Park Row were members of Aifa. Aifa’s silence on this disgraceful state of affairs is deafening.

    Why I am not surprised>>

  17. The FSA are a total disgrace. I agree they have to vet applications but how they go about it is disgusting. they take weeks just to say a case handler is put in place. Who do they answer to? What protection do we get and we have to pay them for this?

  18. Martyn Sinclair 14th April 2011 at 9:29 pm

    why on earth would the law firm involved wish to remain anonymous – or are they too scared of the FSA!!!!????

  19. Frazer Maul, you suffer from a bad bout of foot in mouth disease, you haven’t seen any of the 90% of files deemed to be unsuitable which have subsequently been overturned on appeal.

    I can’t find you on the FSA website as an authorised person, who are you? A regulatory stooge?

  20. Exasperated Me | 14 Apr 2011 11:09 pm

    Funny that I can’t find your details on there either!!!!!!

  21. This is the thin end of a very nasty wedge. Before too long, the FSA/FCA will require all applicants for advisory positions to travel to Canary Wharf for a grilling on terms set by themselves without reference to anyone else. Will there be any right of appeal against being rejected? Don’t bet on it.

  22. Baron Bolligrew 15th April 2011 at 10:17 am

    Guys, guys! Put your handbags down and consider what is happening.

    The FSA have engendered a ‘divide and conquer’ policy in an environment of fear and persecution. As long as they keep advisers occupied with in-fighting and scare anyone from actually challenging them, they can carry on doing as they please with impunity.

    So, drawing parallels between the FSA and the Waffen SS is, I feel, justified. In both cases, it was ‘for the good’, even if the ‘good’ is a warped one that the actual populace do not really want.

    Don’t get me wrong, qualifications, professionalism, fee-charging, etc, etc is good but it’s not the be-all and the end-all. We all have stories/anecdotes of those who meet the FSA’s ideal criteria who have gone on to cause havoc and mayhem behind their veil of conformity. In the meantime, those who are still transition to the idyll or who are struggling to keep pace get lambasted for their intransigence.

  23. and BARCLAYS bank did far worse but no fines with straight forward reauthorising of advisors.

    and so the answer is…..

    Work for a bank and you’ll be left alone. How’s that justifed then? …Oh yeah, I just heard the FSA staff say, “Leave the banks alone as I’ll need another job in the future – when everyone realises I can’t do the job here.”

  24. Everyone has a right to earn a living (and as a result pay tax) so to withdraw this for no good reason for such a long time defrauds the Government of important revenue and most importantly creates hardship and injustice for those who want to work and provide for themselves and their family.

    What a ridiculous, unjust and unfair situation for the FSA to even be allowed to stop people working. It is a bit like being sentenced and fined without knowing why.

    How do we let this happen and just talk about it?

    The FSA would not exist without us all paying their costs and wages.

  25. Baron Bolligrew 19th April 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Re.: Michael Fallas | 18 Apr 2011 5:48 pm

    ‘How do we let this happen and just talk about it?’

    I’m sure many people thought the same when they realised what the SS were doing.

    What you also realise is that although people talk about the FSA it is usually in fear, making certain that they cannot be overheard by anyone who might report them.

    They already have the power to knock on your door at a time that suits them. They also ahve the power to ‘interview’ you without you being allowed to have any legal representative or other adviser present.

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