Finance News

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

6th December 2017
"It is also unacceptable that firms hold themselves out as independent when they are not."

The FCA fined Bluefin Insurance Services £4,023,800 for claiming to be independent when actually being wholly owned by AXA.

The FCA says Bluefin also had inadequate systems and controls and failed to be clear, fair and not misleading to customers about its independence.

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.

The regulator's investigation found that Bluefin’s independence was compromised by its culture which promoted business strategies, including a policy which focused on increasing the business placed with its parent company, over treating customers fairly.

Bluefin brokers did not disclose this policy, so customers risked being misled into believing they were dealing with a broker who would conduct an unbiased search of the market.

Bluefin agreed to settle at an early stage of the investigation and received a 30% reduction in their overall fine. Without this discount the fine would have been £5,748,200.

The FCA stressed that it "makes no criticism of any member of the AXA Group other than Bluefin".

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said: "Insurance brokers must promote a culture in which they act in their customers’ best interests and provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision. This is central to the relationship between the industry and its customers.

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

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