IFA fines pass £500,000 mark

The Financial Services Authority has fin-ed financial advisory firms over £500,000 so far in 2007, with Kilminster Financial Management the latest to take a hit.

Last week, the regulator fined the independent financial adviser network £42,000 for management and complaints handling failings between January 1 2004 and August 23 2006.

Kilminster is the fifth IFA firm to be fined this year. Charterhouse Consulting Wealth Management, Sesame, Re-gency Investment Services and Trigon Pensions have received fines, which added together total £519,000.

The regulator ruled that Bristol-bas-ed Kilminster had failed to treat its customers fairly as it took too long to deal with complaints, did not monitor its staff adequately and failed to keep sufficient training records.

The Financial Ombudsman Service referred Kilminster to the FSA twice for failing to pay awards to two complainants promptly and the regulator had to write to the firm about complying with two further FOS awards that it did not pay in good time.

Kilminster has now complied with both awards and paid both complainants.

The FSA says it viewed the failings seriously because of Kilminster’s poor regulatory record.

In April 2000 and May 2001, the Personal Investment Authority took remedial action against the firm for offences relating to selling practices, compliance procedures and recruitment.

Margaret Cole, director of enforcement at the FSA, says: “Firms should take their regulatory responsibilities seriously. They must take action in a timely manner, whether it relates to an FSA or FOS action.”

Kilminster has now taken on additional compliance staff and has em-ployed independent consultants to look into its complaints handling, training and competence arrangements.

Kilminster qualified for a 30% discount on the fine because it agreed to settle at an early stage of the FSA’s in-vestigation, otherwise it would have been fined £60,000.