FCA Bans, Fines Financial Adviser £68,000 for Lying About Qualifications

The FCA has banned financial adviser Simon Varley and fined him for lacking honesty and integrity after repeatedly lying to conceal his own wrongdoings.

April 15, 2021 | AtoZ Markets – The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has banned Simon Varley from working in financial services and fined him £68,300 ($94,227).

Varley worked at advisory firm Dickinsons Financial Management, where he held a customer adviser function (CF30) until January 2013.

The British watchdog said it has taken this action because he “knowingly performed a controlled function without approval and provided investment advice to retail customers when he knew he was not qualified or approved to do so”.

Simon Varley failed to act with integrity

The FCA also found that Varley “failed to act with integrity” as a director and compliance oversight controlled function holder and, as a result, is “not a fit and proper person”.

Following the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), the FCA introduced rules requiring that advisers hold a minimum level of qualification to be approved for a CF30 function.

Although his CF30 approval was removed in January 2013 by the FCA at his request, Varley still continued to advise retail customers between January 2013 and September 2017, the watchdog said.

The FCA added: “Varley repeatedly misled his fellow directors by providing false information in board meetings about sitting and passing the relevant exams required for him to continue advising, and falsely claiming that he had applied to the FCA for approval as a CF30 but that the FCA had not updated the Financial Services Register.

“In fact, no application was ever made.

“Varley also knowingly facilitated the provision of false information to Dickinsons’ professional indemnity insurance providers about the qualifications he held, in order to be insured to advise retail investors after 2013.”

Within his compliance oversight controlled function role, Varley “knowingly misled the FCA into believing that only one person at Dickinsons was providing retail investment advice to customers instead of two”, as well as provide explanations to the FCA that “were untrue to conceal his own misconduct”.

The regulator said that the unregulated adviser’s actions “led to Dickinsons going into voluntary liquidation and being dissolved”.

Deliberate lies

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “Mr Varley deliberately lied about his position, and his misconduct continued for a number of years, potentially creating a risk of loss to customers.

“He continued to abuse his position of trust as a director, proving that he lacks both honesty and integrity and poses a serious risk to consumers and to confidence in the financial system.

“Today’s ban should act as a deterrent to other senior individuals who abuse a position of trust.”

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