Broker banned for not being fit or proper
The FSA’s investigation found that Nickols failed to ensure his customers were treated fairly and failed to prevent his staff using high pressure sales techniques.
The high pressure tactics included making unsolicited phone calls to the public, falsely claiming to represent well known high street financial service providers and questioning the stability of customers` existing policy providers in order to encourage the purchase of a new policy through Warwick. Staff also obtained direct debit details from potential customers and set up insurance policies in their name without permission.
Nickols also failed to have appropriate systems and controls in place, meaning that staff were not monitored appropriately, customer’s specific needs were often not taken into account and training for staff was inadequate.
Furthermore, during the investigation Nickols failed to deal honestly with the FSA by making incorrect statements to the FSA and not making the improvements he had promised to make to improve the firm’s treatment of customers.
Tom Spender, FSA’s head of retail enforcement, said: “By failing to treat his customers fairly, lacking the essential systems and controls to meet the FSA’s minimum regulatory requirements, and having an inappropriate attitude to the remedial action we outlined, Nickols poses a genuine risk to his customers and the financial system.
“High pressure sales techniques and subterfuge have no place in a market that relies on honesty and integrity.”
Warwick, based in Hinkley, Leicestershire, operated with 10 nationwide branches selling mortgage and general insurance products on a purportedly non-advised basis.
As a sole trader, it was Nickols’ responsibility to ensure that Warwick had adequate management and control arrangements. He was also responsible for ensuring that Warwick complied with the regulatory requirements and treated its customers fairly.