Bluefin IS fined £4m over independence claim

Bluefin Insurance Services Limited has been fined £4m for systems failures and holding itself out as independent when prioritising the products of its owner, Axa UK.

Justice-Fine-Ban-Court-Gavel-Judge-700x450.jpgThe FCA fined the firm for failing to implement adequate systems and controls to manage the conflict that arose from its then ownership by Axa UK, which was not implicated in the determination. The regulator found Axa UK had no involvement in Bluefin Insurance Services’ market behaviour. The determination does not involve Bluefin Corporate Consulting, which was sold to Capita in 2012.

The FCA says that between 9 March 2011 and 31 December 2014, Bluefin operated a policy which focused on increasing the business placed with its parent company, and prioritised this 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.

FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward says: “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 per cent reduction in their overall fine. Without this discount the fine would have been £5,748,200.

The FCA says it makes no criticism of any member of the Axa Group other than Bluefin.