FCA ban and £20K fine for investment adviser

The Financial Conduct authority (FCA) has banned Angela Burns from acting as a non-executive director (NED) and fined her £20,000 for failing to act with integrity at two mutual societies because she did not notify them of potential conflict of interest

Burns is an experienced UK investment professional and the chief executive of her own investment consultancy. From January 2009 until May 2011, she was a NED at two mutual societies, the Marine and General Life Assurance Society and the Teachers Provident Society, and served as the chair of their investment committees.

Both mutual societies were seeking investment manager services and looked to Burns for her expert advice and guidance. Burns participated in discussions about Vanguard Asset Management Ltd (Vanguard), a well-known US investment manager that had just opened offices in the UK, at both mutual societies.

The FCA said its investigation found Burns was simultaneously soliciting work from Vanguard by referring to her NED positions at the mutual societies while she was providing them with what they thought was impartial advice. Burns did not, however, tell either mutual society that she was simultaneously seeking consultancy work with Vanguard. 

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight of the FCA, said: ‘Directors have a duty to disclose or avoid conflicts of interest so they can be addressed by the board. In this case, Ms Burns placed herself in a position where her duty as a non-executive director may have conflicted with concurrent opportunities she was pursuing.

‘This was neither disclosed nor, as a consequence, could it be addressed by the board. This was inappropriate and inconsistent with the standards of integrity expected from senior managers’.

The FCA said Burns breached its statement of principle 1 requiring approved persons to act with integrity in carrying out their controlled functions. Burns had challenged the FCA decision in an Upper Tribunal in December 2012, with an appeal to the Court of Appeal which was dismissed. The Supreme Court denied her application for permission to appeal against this.

FCA final notice Angela Burns is here

Report by Pat Sweet

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