Hot Shot Gun Slingers

Like a sheriff from the Wild West, FCA have recently administered summary justice to someone they clearly saw as a bad guy.

Thus if ever anyone was still in any doubt about the seriousness of FCA’s enforcement intent, the recent banning of Anthony Verrier should prove salutary reading.

On 16 May, FCA announced that it had decided to prohibit Anthony Verrier from performing “any function in relation to any regulated activity in the financial services industry.” This on the grounds that the FCA believed that he “is not a fit and proper person due to concerns over his honesty, integrity and reputation.”

The evidence of this lack of fitness and propriety comes from the now infamous court case (Tullet Prebon plc vs. BGC Brokers LP) in which Mr. Verrier was a participant.

The FCA state that given the High Court’s findings and comments concerning Verrier’s behaviour during the trial, they decided that Mr. Verrier should be banned from working in the financial services industry.

In the words of Tracey McDermott, acting Enforcement Head at FCA, “In light of the High Court’s findings about Verrier’s conduct, we have concluded that he is not fit and proper to be in the UK financial services industry.”

There has been some comment about FCA’s process in this case – or rather, their lack of process, as FCA did not in fact carry out any investigation of their own into Mr. Verrier. All they effectively did was read the court case transcripts, not like what they read and immediately reach for their six-shooter.

So there you have it – FCA, acting like a latter day Wyatt Earp, guns down the guy in the black hat, and all decent homesteaders thank him for it. At least, until the appeal to the Tribunal.

So in the meantime, what are the lessons from this tactic employed by FCA? Was this really necessary? Is the City truly in the grip of lawless cowboys, who will not think twice before stealing your cattle or robbing the stagecoach? I hardly think so.

It remains the case that the vast majority of consumers of financial services get what they want. And that the vast majority of financial services professionals are decent, honest and truthful people. Some people may have no principles, but most do.

But there were facts in the Tullet vs. Prebon case that FCA could probably not ignore. Many would applaud their having taken a leaf out of the High Court’s book, pointing out that it was high time that we saw a return to personal morality and higher standards of professional ethics.

If the use of such a short cut gets to law and order quicker, so much the better. And there’s no case of justice denied – Mr. Verrier will still have his day in front of the Tribunal.

And this is not new. FCA has always had the power to ban people for failing to adhere to the Fit and Proper test for Approved Persons.

The “Main assessment criteria” under that section of the FCA Handbook make clear that FCA will have regard to “offences of dishonesty” and “any adverse finding or any settlement in civil proceedings”, wherever in the world they take place and not necessarily limited to financial services offences.

The fact that Mr. Verrier was not personally on trial is a distinction without a difference.

FCA’s action in this case is unlikely to set an adverse precedent. It’s unlikely that FCA will follow this case up with a rash of actions against financial services folk who, say, get a little worse for wear on a Thursday or Friday after work and end up having to be helped home.

But the lesson is clear. Financial services professionals are under the lawman’s eye – always. So there’s a new marshal in town. He’s polishing his badge and the Colt 45 is ready. And he’s not afraid to use it…

Lend Me your Ears

As the dust continues to settle over the tenure of outgoing FCA Chief Executive, Hector Sants, we examine his legacy in our leading article from the April issue of Compliance Monitor.

Access it here.


As we approach the summer break, it’s a good time for firms to plan ahead for the second half of the year and the rash of regulatory changes that will be happening at the back end of the year.

Foremost amongst these will be for firms with exposure to the retail client advisory market. These firms will now be putting the final touches on their RDR-compliant processes. Any adviser who has not already achieved the relevant level of threshold competency will be putting in the hours over the summer break to ensure a successful exam result.

Those who have already done so should now have their application in to their chosen professional body in order to obtain their Statement of Professional Standing ahead of the anticipated end of year rush.

For other firms, this is a good time of the year to update staff on recent regulatory changes, assess priorities etc. Fulcrum Compliance have been working with a number of clients in carrying out annual update training for directors, staff and for the Compliance team. This is always well received, as apart from anything else, it gives attendees some time away from the desk to consider wider issues.

If you would like to invest some time in a similar way, please contact us.


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