FCA fines TMI director for £112m of unsuitable pension transfers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined a former advisory firm director £23,400 after customers transferred £112m of pension funds into potentially unsuitable investments via self-invested personal pensions (Sipps).

Lloyd Pope, who was a director at TMI, was handed the fine after the regulator said his failings were linked to 1,661 customers transferring thousands from their pension funds into alternative investments.

These investments included green oil biofuel oil, farmland and overseas property, with 923 customers having sunk money into developments operated by Harlequin.

The FCA found that, between January 2010 and January 2013, Pope had failed to ensure that TMI complied with regulations and did not take reasonable steps to make sure the company assessed the suitability of the underlying products customers were investing in through their Sipps.

It noted that the company’s business model had “focussed solely on providing advice on the most suitable Sipp wrapper for the underlying product”, rather than the other way around.

The regulator said that Pope’s shortcomings directly resulted in 1,661 TMI customers being at significant risk of having transferred a total of £112,420,985 into Sipps which were not suitable for them.

The FCA said: “As a consequence of his actions, Mr Pope failed to meet minimum regulatory standards in terms of performing significant influence controlled functions. He is therefore not fit and proper to perform any senior management function or any significant influence controlled functions at any authorised person, exempt person or exempt professional firm.”

Pope was initially fined £93,800 by the FCA in March 2015, but this was reduced due to the emergence of limitation periods during an investigation of fellow TMI director, Alistair Rae Burns.

Having agreed to settle at an early stage of the investigation, Pope also benefitted from a 30 per cent discount.

TMI stopped advising customers on Sipps in January 2013 following an alert by the FCA, before entering liquidation in October of the same year.

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