FCA fines former AXA-owned insurer £4m over independence claims

Cornelia Mascio
Dicembre 7, 2017

"It is also unacceptable that firms hold themselves out as independent when they are not", the watchdog said.

However, Bluefin failed to implement adequate systems and controls to manage the conflict that arose from Bluefin's ownership.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined Bluefin Insurance Services £4,023,800 for "having inadequate systems and controls and failing to provide information to its customers about Bluefin's independence in a way that was clear, fair and not misleading".

Between 9 March 2011 and 31 December 2014, the large insurance broker was wholly owned by AXA UK, but claimed to be "truly independent" in the advice it provided and the insurers it recommended to customers.

But the watchdog found that conflicts arose from Bluefin's ownership, as the business had a "culture which promoted business strategies - including a policy which focused on increasing the business placed with its parent company - over treating customers fairly". Instead, it did not disclose its policy of trying to push business with its parent and so customers could have been misled that the broker was unbiased.

The fine had been calculated at £5.75m, but the regulator took into account Bluefin's early acceptance of its culpability, avoiding a drawn-out investigation, for which the FCA gave the company credit that resulted in a 30% reduction of the fine.

Bluefin was purchased by Marsh in 2016, in a deal worth £295m. "This is central to the relationship between the industry and its customers", said the FCA's Mark Steward.

The FCA also highlighted that it makes no criticism of any member of the Axa Group other than Bluefin.

When contacted by International Investment, a spokesperson for Marsh, who made the point that this fine related to a historical, or legacy, issue that happened at a time when Bluefin was under ownership by AXA and not by Marsh, said: "We were aware of the investigation into these practices in Bluefin when we acquired the business at the end of previous year".

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE