On 8 August 2017, the Upper Tribunal upheld the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) decision to ban Charles Palmer, former CEO of Financial Limited and Investments Limited (“the Firms”), from performing FCA significant influence functions. The Tribunal also upheld the FCA’s decision to impose a financial penalty of £86,691 on Mr Palmer.
Mr Palmer was the majority shareholder and CEO of Standard Financial Group Limited, and a director and de facto CEO of the adviser network, which was comprised of the Firms. The network operated nationally and, at its peak, in March 2011, consisted of 397 appointed representatives (“ARs”) and 516 registered individuals (“RIs”). Between 24 February 2010 and 20 December 2012, the Firms’ ARs and RIs collectively provided advice to approximately 40,000 customers.
The Tribunal agreed with the FCA that Mr Palmer failed to act with due skill, care and diligence in carrying out his role of director and as de facto CEO of the Firms.
The Tribunal also agreed with the FCA that Mr Palmer’s failings were particularly serious in the light of findings made against him by the FCA’s predecessor, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in a Final Notice of 24 February 2010 and Mr Palmer’s failure to respond adequately to the failings found in that Notice.
Amongst other findings, the 2010 Notice found that Mr Palmer had failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that Financial Limited’s business was organised in such a way that it could be controlled effectively, both in relation to oversight and monitoring of its ARs and RIs and during a period of rapid expansion of Financial Limited’s network of ARs and RIs under the business model that Mr Palmer established.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA said: “Mr Palmer’s conduct fell well below the standards the FCA would expect of a senior manager of an authorised firm. His conduct was made worse by the fact that he did not learn lessons from, and address the failings highlighted to him in, 2010.”
The Tribunal’s decision was issued following a hearing in February 2017 as Mr Palmer had referred the FCA’s Decision Notice 25 September 2015 to the Tribunal.
The FCA had already issued Final Notices to the Firms in July 2014, the Firms’ Compliance Director in March 2015, and their Risk Director, in December 2015.
It is open to Mr Palmer to seek leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal if he so chooses.