The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined three former senior executives of Swinton a total of £928,000. The FCA’s action follows enforcement action taken last year against Swinton when it was fined £7.4m after it adopted an aggressive sales strategy that resulted in mis-sales of monthly add-on insurance policies. In 2009 the firm was fined £770,000 for failures in its sales of PPI.
Peter Halpin (former chief executive) is also banned from acting as chief executive of a financial services firm, while Anthony Clare (former finance director) and Bowyer are banned from performing significant influence functions at financial services firms.
Bowyer, who has been a director at car insurance firm Drivology since March, was fined £306,700. He was, the FCA said, also integral to the successful delivery of the directors’ strategy to maximise Swinton’s profits in 2011 and encouraged a culture to develop within Swinton that prioritised sales to the detriment of customers.
FCA director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, Tracey McDermott said:
“A culture was allowed to develop within Swinton that pushed for high sales and increased profit without regard to the impact on the firm’s customers. We expect firms to put customers at the heart of their business. These three directors should have recognised the risk to customers and redressed the balance so that the drive to maximise profits did not jeopardise the fair treatment of customers.
“Those with significant influence within firms are responsible for setting the tone and the culture; they set the example that others will follow. Today’s enforcement action should serve as a timely reminder to those at the very top of firms that the FCA is determined to hold individuals to account where they fall short of the standard we require.”
The FCA has found that a sales-focused culture in Swinton was encouraged by Clare and Bowyer driving a business strategy that was designed to boost the firm’s profits in 2011. The three former directors did not recognise the risk of this culture developing or take reasonable steps to prevent it.
Swinton’s participating directors (including these three directors) stood to gain a bonus of approximately £90million under the directors share scheme if operating profits reached £110million in 2011. Halpin, Clare and Bowyer would have benefited significantly under the scheme had these results been achieved.
Read the full details of the ruling here.