The banned boss of network Financial Limited Charlie Palmer has defended his actions after a court upheld FCA sanctions against him.
In an Upper Tribunal ruling yesterday, the FCA’s ban and £86,500 fine against Palmer for oversight failings of the network’s advisers was upheld.
It is the second fine Palmer has received after also falling foul of previous regulator the Financial Services Authority in 2009 over pension switching advice risks.
In a letter seen by Money Marketing sent to members of the compliance business Palmer now chairs, IFA Compliance, Palmer explains “his side of the story”.
Palmer says that the Tribunal agreed “there was no malice involved” and that there was no case that the network’s business model in itself was inappropriate.
Palmer writes “I am pleased and gratified that, despite the differences in view between us, at no stage, has the FCA ever challenged my honesty and integrity or questioned my belief that I was acting in the best interests of my clients and the AR clients…I support the FCA’s agenda, they have a difficult job to do as the complexities of this case has shown.
“I am proud to have invented the UK’s first fee only network….May I also thank the IFA industry for being so supportive of me during this long period.”
Palmer admits that Financial Limited’s advisers’ files “fell short” when it came to unregulated collective investment schemes and pension switching. However, he claims that files overall “consistently outperformed” the results of the FCA’s review of suitability earlier this year.
He writes that overall suitability was above 90 per cent – the FCA review said 93.1 per cent of the cases showed suitable advice – and that at least 75 per cent showed adequate disclosure, compared to just under 50 per cent in the FCA’s review.
“No better source of knowledge”
IFA Compliance helps advisers obtain FCA authorisation and complete regulatory returns. Chief executive John Downs signs off Palmer’s letter by saying that Palmer’s experience dealing with the FCA is valuable for the firm.
Downs says: “We have now ten members of staff at IFAC and we would like to re-assure you that it is business as usual, if not with renewed vigour and energy…Our relationship with the FCA is excellent and entirely unaffected by this case that has finally ended after more than five years.
“The experience in our firm is second to none. Firms who run into difficulty with the FCA have no better informed source of knowledge in the industry than Charlie. Unlike so many compliance staff, accountants and lawyers he has actually carried the responsibility as founder and chief executive of a top ten IFA firm – managing over 500 AR firms and hundreds of members of staff who inevitably will make mistakes and breach internal procedures and sometimes FCA rules.”