PIA `names and shames' five firms

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The Independent Online
Five leading firms offering independent financial advice were "named and shamed" by the Personal Investment Authority, the industry's watchdog, yesterday.

The action came as Helen Liddell, the Economic Secretary, warned that there would be no let-up in the quest for redress in the pounds 4bn pensions mis-selling scandal.

The PIA's announcement, sparked by the apparent failure of the five companies to meet the latest regulatory deadline, was an embarrassment for two leading figures in UK financial services.

It was the second "naming and shaming" for DBS Financial, chaired by Ken Davy, once a PIA board member. Countrywide Independent, run by Jim Gaskin, also numbered among the five companies now potentially facing hefty PIA fines. Mr Gaskin is a former deputy chief executive of Fimbra, the financial services regulator.

Burns Anderson Independent, Financial Options and IFA Network were also named by the PIA.

All five firms apparently failed to meet the PIA's requirement that 90 per cent of priority cases should be resolved by the end of 1997.

Commenting on the announcement, Ms Liddell said companies failing to meet deadlines "must face the consequences". She warned there would be "no let-up - from the Government or the regulators". Forty-one firms, including the five named yesterday, are being monitored by the Economic Secretary. These firms have now resolved over half the cases identified for review.

Separately, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) announced yesterday that five product providers had failed to meet mis-selling deadlines.

Guardian Royal Exchange, Reliance Mutual, Royal Liver, GAN Life and Sun Life of Canada failed to resolve 90 per cent of top priority cases by the end of 1997. But regulatory action is unlikely as the five product providers only narrowly missed targets and had made strenuous efforts to meet regulatory deadlines.

To date, the pensions review has led the PIA to impose fines totalling pounds 2m. DBS Financial, one of the five financial adviser firms named yesterday, was fined pounds 425,000 last September and said yesterday "every reasonable endeavour has been made to comply with the PIA's timetable".