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FCA to refund £3.4m to Ponzi scheme victims 

The FCA has secured High Court Approval to return £3.42m to victims of a Ponzi scheme couple who ran a series of unauthorised deposit taking and collective investment operations.

The schemes were run by Samuel and Shantelle Golding and their companies Digital Wealth Limited – also known as Digital Wealth Society (DWS) and Outsourcing Express Limited (OEL) – also known as Kerchiing.

Between 2015 and 2017, the schemes claimed to be involved in the online purchase of wholesale goods from China. They claimed the goods were for onward sale and promised unrealistically high returns, in some cases up to 100% of the amount invested, the FCA said. 

However, despite the promises no significant trading was conducted and the schemes relied on a continuous flow of new investors to fund existing investors’ returns, a typical Ponzi scheme ruse. 

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Scheme operators Samuel and Shantelle Golding admitted to the court they

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FCA publishes final guidance on vulnerable customers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) today published its final guidance on its expectations for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers.

The guidance aims to improve the way firms treat vulnerable customers to ensure they achieve the same outcomes as non-vulnerable clients.

The regulator will use the guidance to hold firms to account for their treatment of vulnerable customers. Firms can expect to be asked to demonstrate how their business model, the actions they have taken and their culture ensure the fair treatment of all customers, including vulnerable customers.

The regulator said vulnerable characteristics may limit a client’s ability to make reasonable decisions or put them at greater risk of mis-selling.

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The regulator said that firms should understand what harms their customers are likely to be vulnerable to and ensure that customers in vulnerable circumstances can receive the same fair treatment and outcomes as other customers. It

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Dentons acquires SSAS business

SIPP provider Dentons Pensions has acquired MAB Pensions, a provider of small self administered schemes (SSASs), from Michael Ambrose Group (MAB), a Leicester-based financial adviser and pension administrator.

The deal is for an undisclosed sum and is the second acquisition by Dentons this year after it bought Brown Shipley’s pension admin business recently.

The takeover of MAB’s SSAS book will add over 100 SSAS plans to Dentons existing book of over 1200 SSASs.

In 2014, Dentons Pensions acquired the SIPP book from MAB, which added 125 SIPPs to the business. Dentons currently administers over 7,500 SIPPs.  

Ian Stewart, joint managing director of Dentons, said: “We have made no secret that we are an acquisitive firm, but it has to be for the right business or book of business. 

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“We were therefore pleased that following the successful acquisition of the MAB SIPP book in 2014, they came to us

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Royal London Covid-19 payouts top £13m

Royal London paid out £13.1m in Covid-19 claims in 2020 to a total of more than 2,100 customers.

The mutual insurer said the majority of claims were death claims with 2,049 paid out on Whole of Life policies and 61 on Term Life policies with a total pay-out of £13m.

One Critical Illness claim was paid due to Covid-19 resulting in a period of intensive care with a sum assured of £50,000.

Seven Income Protection claims were paid to Royal London clients where Covid-19 led to their absence from work, with an annual pay-out totalling £46,000.

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Royal London predicts many customers will require long term support to deal with the impact of Covid-19 with around one in 10 people who tested positive still having symptoms 12 weeks later.

To help customers cope with the long-term effects of Covid Royal London is referring people to its ‘Helping Hand’ support

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LEBC reports financial loss following death of CEO

LEBC, the retirement advisory firm whose CEO died suddenly last year, has reported a loss of £232,000 in its latest financial figures. 

LEBC was founded by Chartered Financial Planner Jack McVitie, 57, who died suddenly last autumn following a short illness. The business is now being led by Derek Miles, managing director of LEBC Group.

The firm said it had a “disappointing year” in the 12 months to September after being hit by a raft of challenges. The previous year it made a loss of £401,160.

Turnover and trading profit were hit by withdrawal from providing advice on defined benefit transfers following discussions with the regulator and the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic had also knocked the firm, LEBC said. These factors led to reduced income as markets dipped.

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LEBC said Covid 19 and lockdown sent markets into “freefall” in March 2020 and for a while damaged investor

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Editor’s Column: One man's drive for redemption

Redemption is a powerful force and it is likely to be the driving force behind fallen fund manager Neil Woodford’s unexpected comeback plans revealed this week.

He’s been widely castigated for planning a comeback but I understand where he is coming from. I’m not saying I agree with his plans but it’s worth looking at his motives before dismissing them out of hand.

Before I do, it’s worth remembering that he held god-like status with many in the investment world for many years. He could do no wrong, I was told repeatedly by those who, in hindsight, should have known better.

I was often told, as a mere hack, that I didn’t appreciate his magic. Suffice to say I steered clear of investing in his funds. Not because I wasn’t impressed with the often stellar performance over extended periods but because I’ve always had an issue with ‘star’ fund managers.

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FNZ submits detailed case against merger ban

Platform engine FNZ has submitted a detailed case document against the Competition and Markets Authority’s order to sell off its recent acquisition and rival GBST.

In its latest submission, filed this week and produced by law firm Slaughter and May, FNZ argues that the acquisition of GBST does not give rise to a “substantial lessening of competition (SLC).”

It also submits that the market definition used in the CMA’s original report was fundamentally flawed.

FNZ added that the platform allocation errors that have been acknowledged by the CMA were “sufficient in themselves to undermine the SLC finding.”

In January the CMA said that it had identified “certain potential errors” in its market share calculations. It said this was as a result of the supply of inconsistent information during the CMA’s investigation.

FNZ said that, “the CMA’s finding of an SLC and its decision on remedies have been quashed and must

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Wealth manager adds 3 new staff to meet demand 

Leicester-based wealth adviser Westerby Investment Management has recruited three new members of staff from Berkeley Burke in an expansion move.

The company says the appointments will help meet demand for independent financial advice in the Leicestershire region and further afield.

Glenn Stredder and Mike Callaghan have joined as senior financial consultants and Carol Keeling has joined as office manager.

Mr Stredder previously worked as an IFA at Berkley Burke and Medical Insurance Agency following roles advising high net worth and corporate clients at Barclay’s Bank and TSB Bank.

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Mr Callaghan also joins from Berkley Burke, where he spent 18 years as an adviser specialising in retirement planning, IHT planning and investment management.

Ms Keeling will work with Westerby’s team of Paraplanning and administrative staff and also joins from Berkley Burke, where she as an admin manager for 16 years.

Westerby Investment Management is part of the Westerby Group

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Brown Shipley hires Chartered Planner from S&W

Wealth manager Brown Shipley has hired Dan Morris as a client adviser for its Birmingham office from Smith & Williamson where he was a Chartered Financial Planner.

Mr Morris has 20 years of industry experience and was previously a Chartered Financial Planner at Broadstone (formerly BDO Investment Management).

The wealth manager has also hired Johnny McGrath as a client adviser for the same branch. He has 26 years of experience in private banking and joins from UBS. He is a Chartered Fellow of the CISI.

Brown Shipley is owned by Quintet Private Bank.

The new joiners are the latest in a number of new hires for the wealth management firm.

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In May 2020 Brown Shipley reshuffled its senior executive team by appointing BNY Mellon veteran and CISI chairman Michael Cole-Fontayn as its new chairman in a move which will saw former chair Rory Tapner become chair of parent

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Ex-Schroders' worker jailed for role in £6m cocaine gang

A former Schroders worker has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for his role in a three man gang which was caught in connection with the supply of £6m worth of cocaine.

The three men were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court earlier this month for their involvement in supplying cocaine.

Overall 41kg of cocaine was found in the rear of a white van used by the gang and, in total, 49kg of cocaine was seized with an estimated street value of almost £6m.

Ex-Schroders employee Joe Sawyer, 26, of Fieldhouse Close, Redbridge was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role

Co-defendant Lazarus John Loizides, 27, of St. Anthony’s Drive, Chelmsford, Essex, was sentenced to 11 years’ in prison and co-defendant Robert Beckley, 31, of Church Road, West Malling, Kent, was given four years and four months’ in prison.

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The three were caught with a substantial

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