Business

Former Swinton bosses fined and banned from senior roles

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Three former directors at insurance brokers Swinton have been fined a total of £928,000 and banned from top roles after the firm mis-sold extra policies.

Last year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fined the business £7.4m for such actions.

The latest penalties, also levied by the FCA, allot personal blame to the men for allowing an aggressive sales culture to prevail at the company.

Swinton's directors stood to gain a bonus of £90m if profits reached £110m.

Between April 2010 and April 2012, staff attempted to sell so-called "add-ons", in the form of personal accident, home emergency and motor breakdown policies, extras that generated £90m.

Customers were not told that the policies were optional.

Swinton has since paid 650,000 customers an average of £55 for mis-selling.

The three directors would have benefited significantly if the practice had not come to light.

The three include Peter Halpin, Swinton's former chief executive, who has been banned from acting as chief executive of an FCA authorised firm. He was also fined £412,700.

In a statement Mr Halpin said: "I acted in good faith at all times and it is of some significant comfort that the regulator did not impugn my integrity, nor find that my conduct was improperly motivated by incentive arrangements."

Culture

Nicholas Bowyer, the former marketing director who was key in developing and launching the monthly add-ons, has been banned from "performing any significant influence function" at an FCA authorised firm. He was fined £306,700.

Anthony Clare, the former finance director, was fined £208,600 and has been banned from holding a position of "significant influence" at an FCA authorised firm.

The FCA found that the sales-focused culture in Swinton was encouraged by Mr Clare and Mr Bowyer to boost profits in 2011.

It said the three former directors did not recognise the risk of this culture developing or take reasonable steps to prevent it.

Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, 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.

"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."

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