Wicks told IA: “This is just temporary and we remain absolutely committed to the UK business.”
When contacted by IA, an FCA spokesperson confirmed that: “Holborn cannot currently carry out any activities regulated by the FCA.”
However, the financial advisory firm is still authorised by the UK regulator.
Wicks explained that Holborn Assets Ltd is currently in discussion with the FCA to retrieve its permissions after voluntarily suspending them while the company resolved its lapsed professional indemnity (PI) insurance.
“The FCA rules specify that if you haven’t got PI you have to stop all permission immediately.”
Wicks said: “We have had the issues with the DB business that we are dealing with, with the FCA, it made getting PI more difficult. Renewing PI is an annual trial that you have to go through, it’s never easy and always difficult, even at the best of times, when it comes to defined benefit transfer business.”
When the company reached the end of its insurance term, the insurance provider did not offer terms. “We have now got terms, so we are in communication with the FCA at the moment to get our permissions back,” Wicks explained.
“We expect to be back up and running very shortly.”
Bob Parker, chief executive of Holborn Assets in the UAE and a major shareholder of Holborn Assets Ltd, reiterated Wick’s commitment to the UK business.
Parker, who is not a director of the UK business, told IA: “The shareholders, and we have told the FCA this, are very committed to the UK marketplace.”
Finding a solution
The UK office of Dubai-headquartered Holborn Assets was hit with an FCA cessation notice in March that ordered it to immediately cease all pension transfer business, particularly that introduced by overseas advisers.
Parker added: “We are very committed to working with the FCA to find a solution to the complex problem of advice being given in the UK but the execution is done overseas, where the FCA don’t have regulatory oversight.
“It’s a very complex problem and I truly believe that the FCA haven’t found a solution yet. But the way we see it, is working with the trustee we can find a way that advice can be given in the UK, monitored by the trustees and we execute it offshore.”