FSA bans and fines IFA for UCIS mis-selling

FSA bans and fines IFA for UCIS mis-selling


The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined Martin Rigney of Topps Rogers £117,330 and banned him from performing any function in relation to any regulated activity in the financial services industry. Rigney was a Partner and the only adviser working at Topps Rogers.

Rigney promoted and advised retail customers to invest in Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes (UCIS) without assessing their eligibility to receive UCIS promotions or explaining why his recommendations were suitable. As a result of his advice, customers invested a substantial proportion of their investment portfolios in these complex, high risk products when they were unlikely to be suitable. One of Rigney’s customers invested 89 per cent of his investment portfolio in UCIS. Rigney also advised a retired couple to put 80 per cent of their investment portfolio in UCIS to provide an income for their retirement.

Rigney also showed a serious lack of integrity. In May 2010, after he had agreed to stop promoting and advising on UCIS, he arranged a UCIS sale when he attempted to transfer two existing customers’ holdings in a UCIS to a new customer. He did not tell his customer that the UCIS he was recommending had been suspended in 2008.

Rigney also carried out discretionary portfolio management without his customers’ knowledge. He switched customers’ investments into UCIS without notifying them or obtaining their signatures prior to making the transactions. For example, two customers said they were away on holiday on the date that the dealing instruction forms were submitted and therefore could not have signed the forms.

Topps Rogers, a small independent financial advisory firm based in Sheffield, is now in liquidation and Rigney is bankrupt. The FSA also fined Topps Rogers £97,600 on 13th February 2012 for UCIS failings

Tracey McDermott, Director of Enforcement and Financial Crime at the FSA, said: “Martin Rigney demonstrated a serious lack of competence by promoting complex, high risk products to his customers when they were clearly not right for his clients’ needs. He also acted without integrity by continuing to promote UCIS when he had no permission to do so, and arranging UCIS sales without his customers’ knowledge. His actions show a fundamental disregard for the interests of his customers.

“Under Rigney’s watch, Topps Rogers advised 94 customers to invest over £12 million in UCIS. We have made our views on UCIS very clear: these high risk, complex products should not be promoted to the vast majority of retail investors in the UK. We will continue to take tough action against firms and senior management when they mis-sell these high risk products.”

This is the 19th enforcement case brought against an advisory firm for UCIS failings since 2011. The FSA issued Rigney’s Final Notice on the 2nd October 2012.

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