Fenland financial adviser deemed not “fit and proper” to run firm and penalties confirmed by watchdog

A FINANCIAL adviser hired an inexperienced assistant to oversee pension advice even though he knew he would be supervising someone sacked by a previous employer on suspicion of mortgage fraud.

The Financial Services Authority concluded last year that Stuart Unwin of March, was not a “fit and proper person” to run the firm and they have now confirmed that ruling.

Unwin is banned by regulators from performing any “significant influence” in respect of occupational pension transfers.

The ruling means that Stuart Unwin, who formerly ran Unwin Financial Services from Wisbech Road, March, can continue as an investment adviser but he cannot hold a directorship or be involved in compliance oversight.

The FSA had ruled a year ago that between January 2006 and November 2008 Unwin Financial Services had failed to operate adequate systems and controls so that its occupational transfer advice was suitable.

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Unwin appealed against the ban imposed but the FSA has confirmed that “following settlement decisions” the appeal had been withdrawn.

The order against Unwin takes effect from April 25 2012 but they have told him they would be “minded to revoke the prohibition order” should he be able to demonstrate he has tackled his “lack of competence and capability”.

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The FSA had accused Unwin of failing to meet “minimum regulatory standards” and failed to ensure he had proper systems and controls in place. They also queried the “suitability of all occupational transfer advice” to his customers even after a warning.

The FSA had concluded that Unwin’s lack of control over trainee advisers exposed customers to wrong advice and the inadequate systems in place posed an “unacceptably high risk of being used for the purposes of financial crime, including mortgage fraud.”

Tom Spender, head of retail enforcement at the FSA, said: “Occupational pension transfers are complicated and risky transactions, very often not in the customer’s best interest.

“Unwin failed to ensure occupational pension transfers were conducted in line with our requirements – even after the FSA had visited the firm and pointed out this area of concern.

“Put simply Unwin has shown that he was not fit and proper to perform a significant influence/function at the firm”

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