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The Financial Conduct Authority has appointed its first chief data officer among five new appointments announced today as it pushes ahead with its ambition to become a 'data-driven' regulator.

The FCA has begun civil proceeding in the High Court against Paul Steel for providing unsuitable defined benefit pension transfer advice.


It has also secured in interim injunction which freezes the assets of both Mr Steel and his partner Ms Foster up to the value of £7m, pending a further hearing.

The regulator said Mr Steel’s firm, Estate Matters Financial (in liquidation), contravened the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 by providing unsuitable defined benefit pension transfer advice, leading consumers to exit defined benefit pension schemes when it was not in their best interests to do so.

The regulator added that Mr Steel, Estate Matters Financial’s director and co-owner, was knowingly concerned in the contravention.

The FCA alleges that Mr Steel breached FCA requirements by undertaking a course of conduct which resulted in the removal of the firm’s assets, leaving it unable to meet potential liabilities for unsuitable advice, while enabling him to retain the significant profits that accrued from the provision of the advice and from ongoing fees.

An injunction was also obtained against Ms Foster on the basis that she may be holding or controlling assets owned by her partner Mr Steel.

The FCA has also asked the Court to make a restitution order requiring Mr Steel to compensate consumers who have suffered losses as a result of receiving unsuitable pension transfer advice.

No trial date has been set.

The FCA has revealed that 50% of authorised firms previously using the Gabriel data reporting system have moved across to the regulator’s new RegData data collection system.

The FCA halted 343 applications for authorisation from firms and individuals in 2020 in a clampdown to protect consumers.

The former interim chief executive of the FCA Christopher Woolard has been awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours list.

The FCA has urged financial services firms to be ready for the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December as it prepares to make 300 updates to its website.

The FCA’s Financial Services Register will be offline for five days from 31 December to 4 January while the regulator makes Brexit-related changes.

Warrington-based LJ Financial Planning has been fined £107,200 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for providing its customers with unsuitable pension switching and transfer advice and failing to manage its conflicts of interest.

Financial adviser numbers have risen by 1,400 (4%) since the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) and the Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR), ending years of decline.

The FCA has abandoned plans to ban platform exit fees.


In a regulatory update today the watchdog said the move was no longer necessary as a number of platforms had dropped exit fees after the regulator highlighted the issue.

The FCA criticised exit fees as a barrier to investors moving platforms.

The FCA’s Investment Platforms Market study (2018/19) found that while the platform market “works well overall, there were areas where it could work better.”

One of the areas highlighted was the barrier to moving platforms created by exit fees levied by a number of platforms.

The FCA said in Policy Statement 19/29 it would consult on restricting platform exit fees in Q1 2020.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the FCA  then delayed the move to Spring 2021.

It now says: “We have now decided to stop work on this consultation.

“Since expressing our concerns in the 2018 Interim Report, there has been a marked shift in the market away from exit fees, with at least two major platforms announcing that they would no longer be charging exit fees.

“The FCA welcomes the direction of travel by the investment platforms sector in phasing out the use of exit fees.” 

The regulator added that while it has dropped the Exit Fees Consultation it will be closely monitoring the situation and has hinted it will shake up the sector if new barriers to moving platform or any other consumer detriment emerges.

The move to drop an exit fee ban has been criticised by some.

Richard Wilson, chief executive of interactive investor, said: “We are saddened to see this news snuck out on the afternoon of Friday 13th. Exit fees are a recipe for rip offs and a genuine barrier to consumers seeking better value for money - they should have been banned.

“The FCA rightly points out that the direction of travel in the industry has been away from exit fees, in large part because interactive investor and Hargreaves Lansdown have done away with them. But there are still platforms out there that have grown far too complacent, relying on customer inertia and hefty penalties."

“There is no reason to turn off the heat - quite the opposite. Scrutiny on exit fees needs to be extended to life companies, asset and wealth managers, life insurers and beyond. We are completely bewildered by the FCA’s announcement and today is a sad day for consumers.”

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