The FSA fined Standard Life Assurance Limited £2.45m for serious systems and controls failings that resulted in the production of misleading marketing material for its Pension Sterling Fund. There were approximately 98,000 retail consumers invested in the Fund as at 23 December 2008.
Margaret Cole, FSA director of enforcement and financial crime, said:
“The FSA takes the issue of misleading financial promotions very seriously and the fine announced today demonstrates our commitment to the principle of credible deterrence. It is critical that consumers are given an accurate understanding of the nature of investment products and the risks involved. Without this information, consumers are unable to make informed decisions about whether investments are suitable for their individual investment strategy. Throughout 2010 and beyond, the FSA will continue to take strong action when a firm’s financial promotions fall short of the requirement to be ‘clear, fair and not misleading’ and customers have not been treated fairly.
“The failures at SLAL arose because there were inadequate systems or controls in place to ensure that marketing material issued accurately reflected the investment strategy for the Fund. There were also inadequate processes in place to enable effective communication between business areas and committees resulting in a lack of awareness of any divergence between the marketing material and investments held by the Fund.”