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FSA vows to keep pressure on wealth firms amid new probe

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FSA vows to keep pressure on wealth firms amid new probe

Wealth managers have been wrapped into the regulator's scrutiny of conflicts of interest, it has emerged.

After writing to the bosses of asset managers in November, Wealth Manager has learned some discretionaries were also contacted and asked to attest as part of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) review.

The news prompted warnings the sector could face tougher scrutiny over the months ahead, and some regulation experts have voiced their fears about the weighty demands being placed on wealth managers' shoulders.

'Where the regulator subsequently finds deficiencies, the individual is an easy target for personal enforcement action,' said Ash Saluja, of law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, who pointed out individuals as well as firms being taken to task over failures could increasingly become the norm.

Indeed new regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has already said it will break with tradition to name and shame errant individuals as soon as a probe begins.

'Personal careers and financial positions are at risk,' Saluja continued, fearing that busy executives may be tempted to sign off systems and processes as compliant without rigourous investigation.

The FSA confirmed that some wealth managers had been contacted as part of the Dear CEO letter sent to asset managers, adding that some hedge funds had been included too.

Speaking about whether or not the City watchdog had plans to ask firms to attest more broadly a spokesperson said: 'We have made it clear in previous releases we are not done looking at wealth managers.'

There will be a second phase of the FSA's thematic review and although the spokesperson said it would not be right to pre-empt its findings, it was correct to regard the tool of written attests as more focused.

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