PIA set to fine firm of financial advisers pounds 600,000

The Personal Investment Authority, the financial regulator, is set to underline its determination to resolve the pensions mis-selling review by levying a record fine of around pounds 600,000 against a firm of financial advisers. But as Nic Cicutti, Personal Finance Editor, reports, the PIA's stance is under attack amid claims that the watchdog has ducked from taking on the big offenders.

The PIA's disciplinary committee is understood to be in the final stages of agreeing the details of a pounds 600,000 fine against Financial Options, a network of independent financial advisers. An announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

It is believed pounds 400,000 of that fine will relate to failures on the part of the network to meet deadlines set in connection with the pension mis- selling review. The remaining pounds 200,000 is thought to be in connection with other compliance failures, identified in a visit by PIA inspectors to the company's Manchester headquarters more than a year ago. These were judged not to have been rectified in an inspection earlier this year.

A spokeswoman for the regulator yesterday refused to comment on the looming fine. Financial Options said it did not wish to "give credence to rumours".

But Garry Heath, chief executive of the IFA Association, the advisers' trade body, said: "There is inequity in the way this question is being dealt with. Big companies are only being named and shamed, giving the impression that it is only the smaller players who are the worst offenders."

Financial Options, founded in 1990 by two advisers, Brian Blake and Ron Leith, is the UK's third-largest IFA network, with more than 600 financial advisers.

The company offers to sort out compliance problems for its members in return for a slice of their commission income, which reached about pounds 15m last year. The privately owned company's turnover in the first half of this year, including other business ventures, was pounds 12.2m.

The PIA fine will be the fifth large penalty arising from the pensions review since the summer. It follows a pounds 50,000 levy on Berkeley, a Coventry- based firm of IFAs; pounds 425,000 against DBS Financial Management, a stock market-quoted network of advisers; and pounds 140,000 against M&E, another IFA network. To date, the only fine against an insurer is pounds 450,000 against Friends Provident last month.

Action by the regulator against those judged to be failing in the speed with which the pensions review is being carried out comes amid mounting criticism by Helen Liddell, the Treasury Minister, of many of the bigger insurers' delays in compensating victims of the pension transfer scandal.

More than 600,000 policies switched from occupational schemes to private pensions between the late 1980s and early 1990s have been identified by companies as being in need of urgent review. It is believed that at least half will require compensation because the advice to opt out of company schemes was wrong. Up to 400,000 people are waiting for compensation more than four years after the problem was identified.

Mrs Liddell threatened on Tuesday to prevent the worst-offending pension providers from offering stakeholder pensions and individual savings accounts and to bar individual company directors from working within the industry.

The minister hopes to use new provisions, set to come in force next year, whereby the PIA will use newly launched individual registration procedures to weed out errant directors.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all