Former AXA subsidiary Bluefin slapped with £4m FCA fine
The Financial Conduct Authority has fined insurance broker Bluefin - a former AXA subsidiary - £4m for misleading customers.
The regulator said Bluefin had inadequate systems and controls and failed to provide information to its customers about independence in a way that was "clear, fair and not misleading".
Between 9 March 2011 and 31 December 2014, Bluefin held itself out to be "truly independent" in the advice it provided and the insurers it recommended to customers. However, the FCA found that it failed to implement adequate systems and controls to manage the conflict that arose from its ownership.
"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," it said.
Brokers at Bluefin, which was sold by AXA on 31 December 2016, did not disclose this policy, meaning that customers risked being misled into believing they were dealing with a broker who would conduct an unbiased search of the market.
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."
Bluefin agreed to settle at an early stage of the investigation and received a 30% discount on the fine.