Broker fined £250,000 for pressurising and misleading clients

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The Independent Online

Stockbroker Square Mile Securities has been fined £250,000 by City watchdog the Financial Services Authority for using high-pressure sales tactics and misleading customers.

FSA investigators examined 55 share transactions carried out by Square Mile between March and May 2006.

They found that Square Mile knew its advisers frequently used intensive sales tactics and sometimes failed to get a customer's consent before selling them risky shares.

Square Mile also made false statements, provided inaccurate and misleading information and failed to disclose important details and significant risks about the shares to its customers.

The firm also made share recommendations without first ensuring these were suitable for their customers.

"High-pressured sales practices are wholly unacceptable. Firms that use such sales tactics undermine the regulatory requirement to treat customers fairly," said Margaret Cole, the watchdog's director of enforcement.

"The FSA will not tolerate any regulated firm coercing customers into buying financial products or services they do not want or can't afford."

The FSA said it had considered fining Square Mile £1.5m but this was reduced because of its "financial circumstances and its agreement to settle at an early stage of the investigation".

The firm has made changes to its senior management and will write to customers advising them of the FSA's findings and how they can make an official complaint.