Two banned and fined over pension transfer advice failings
The FCA plans to fine Toni Fox and David Price £681,536 and £632,594 respectively for their roles in operating a flawed pension advice process which risked people receiving unsuitable advice to transfer out of defined benefit pension schemes. The FCA also plans to ban the two former directors of CFP Management Ltd (CFP) from carrying out any regulated activity.
Fox and Price have referred the decision notices to the Upper Tribunal. Any findings in the FCA’s decision notices, cited here, are therefore provisional. The Upper Tribunal will determine what, if any, action it is appropriate for the FCA to take.
Between 21 April 2015 and 31 October 2017, CFP gave advice on 1,470 transfers worth more than £392m through an Appointed Representative. Fox designed the pension transfer model and signed off on almost all of the advice. As CFP’s directors, Fox and Price had oversight of the operation of the pension transfer model. More than 99% of the advice given was to transfer, and, nine times out of ten, this advice did not comply with FCA rules. Of those clients who received this advice, 33 were members of the British Steel Pension Scheme.
Despite both having more than 30 years’ experience in the pensions industry, Fox and Price provided advice without proper consideration of clients’ financial circumstances and objectives, attitude to risk and capacity for loss. The flawed business model they designed and operated gave rise to a significant risk that many clients transferred out of their defined benefit pension when it was not suitable for them to do so.
CFP received a fee of between £1,500 and £20,000 from each client they advised to transfer, and charged £500 when they recommended against transfer. Both Fox and Price made substantial gains from this business, with Fox receiving £473,289 from CFP by way of salary, dividends and pension contributions, while Price made £439,302.
FCA joint executive director of enforcement and market oversight Therese Chambers commented ‘Despite having a wealth of experience in the industry, Ms Fox and Mr Price designed and oversaw a deeply flawed advice model that was little more than a machine to churn out recommendations to transfer, placing people’s hard earned retirement money at risk.’