Fimbra strikes off firms for missing PIA deadline

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The Independent Online
THIRTEEN firms have been struck off as authorised independent investment advisers by Fimbra, and a question mark hangs over another 125.

The firms had failed to apply for registration by the Personal Investment Authority, the new retail investment regulator, which is to replace Fimbra, by the deadline of midnight on Friday.

Members of the public who deal with unauthorised firms are not protected by the Investors Compensation Scheme, which covers them for up to pounds 48,000 worth of losses sustained as a result of negligent or fraudulent advice.

The names of those involved have not yet been released by Fimbra. But the Securities and Investments Board, the overall City regulator, said anyone uncertain about the status of a firm with which they were dealing should check with its central register of advisers. The SIB has set up a special telephone helpline on 071-929 3652 to deal with inquiries.

''We are not saying everyone should call, but clearly it's important that everyone makes a considered judgement as to whether the firm they are dealing with is likely to have lost its authorisation,' a spokeswoman said.

Transactions made with the blacklisted firms before Friday are covered by the scheme until the end of the year.

However, the status of 125 firms which have notified Fimbra that they intend to be regulated by an alternative body to the PIA is unclear. If they have not made the necessary arrangements, investors dealing with them will not be protected by the scheme.

The SIB has therefore placed a warning notice on its register in respect of the firms involved until it can confirm that they have made the relevant application.

Several Fimbra members have opted to be regulated by the Insurance Brokers Registration Council rather than by the PIA. The IBRC is a professional body and its regulatory ambit covers only those members who undertake a small amount of investment advice.

The PIA has been set up to take over the activities of Fimbra, which looks after the activities of independent financial advisers and of Lautro, which regulated life and unit trust companies. Insurance companies such as the Prudential which decided against joining the PIA will be directly regulated by the SIB in future.