FCA bans and fines two directors

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has banned and fined two directors of dissolved firms for investing £10 million of clients’ pension monies into high-risk property developments.

The regulator confirmed today that Stephen Burdett and James Goodchild, advisers at Synergy Wealth and Westbury Private Services, have been banned from working in the financial services industry.

Burdett received a fine of £311,762 for his actions, while the regulator fined Goodchild £47,600.

The pair faced allegations of moving £10 million of clients’ pension funds into high-risk portfolios. Within these portfolios, 39% of holdings were tied to a sole offshore property developer.

The FCA said Goodchild had created and managed the portfolios and invested monies from 232 client pensions.

The watchdog said: “All the portfolios were high-risk. But Burdett’s actions led to customers receiving reports implying they would get low- or medium-risk portfolios.”

The regulator added that Burdett had used misleading terms like “cautious” and “balanced” in the names of two portfolios.

Therese Chambers, the FCA’s joint executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “These customers built up pensions over their working lives to help fund their retirement.

“Mr Burdett and Mr Goodchild worked together to switch their hard-earned pensions into obviously unsuitable high-risk portfolios.

“Both were involved in creating misleading materials and made significant personal profits from their actions.

“We will not tolerate such conduct.”

The FCA estimated that Burdett personally profited from his actions to the tune of £150,000 and confirmed that Goodchild “also obtained significant financial benefit.”

To date, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has paid out over £1.4 million to the duo’s victims, while both firms were dissolved after going into liquidation.

According to the FSCS website, its investigation into Westbury is ongoing, with the lifeboat fund last providing an update on the matter on 10th March 2023.

If you’re a victim of similar conduct, we can help

If you lost your pension to either of these firms or thanks to similar actions conducted by another financial adviser or firm, we can help you.

Where advisers are no longer in business, you can take your claim to the FSCS and may be eligible for up to £85,000 in compensation.

Contact us now to outline your situation and get a free, no-obligation review of your pension, pension advice, or transfer.

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