I am pleased that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is to give extra training to its officers to spot phoenix companies. These are companies or individuals who seek to avoid liabilities by liquidating and transferring their assets to a new or different firm from which they continue to trade.
I raised the issue with the FCA and in Parliament when two of my constituents lost considerable sums after they had been advised by an advisory, Scott Robinson, who owned and operated a firm called TBO Investments. After losing his profession indemnity insurance he still remained on the FCA Register and opened a new firm called Mount Sterling Wealth, taking his previous clients with him.
Mr Scott Robinson, is a clever salesman who has a long and extremely chequered history of providing investment advice and has a string of failed businesses. However, the real losers are his clients who have lost tens of thousands of pounds and suffered incalculable stress.
The FCA said "We are looking at how we can strengthen the quality and timeliness of the data we gather on firms and individuals, for example, in the financial advice sector. We are also rolling out a training programme to support our case officers to spot phoenixing by financial advisers using this enhanced intelligence”.
This is definitely a step in the right direction. It is absolutely wrong that that individuals or companies can wreak havoc with people’s financial affairs, walk away and start up again. I think the FCA could and should do more. They should take a more proactive oversight role for the financial advisers (FA) it regulates; instigate a re-approval process for FAs; be willing to hold FAs to account where there is clear wrongdoing, impose fines and banning orders and work with the FSCS and ministers to revise and raise the level of compensation scheme from the totally inappropriate current level of £50 thousand pounds.