The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fined Angela Burns £20,000 and banned her from acting as a non-executive director (NED) for failing to declare a conflict of interest.
Burns was a NED at two mutual societies and served as the chair of their investment committees from January 2009 to May 2011. Both mutual societies sought investment management assistance from Burns and she was in discussions about Vanguard Asset Management, which had just opened a UK office, with both mutuals.
However, she was also looking for work from Vanguard, referring to her NED positions at the mutual societies to show her credentials, while she continued to give what the societies considered impartial advice.
The FCA’s statement of principles require NEDs to act with integrity when looking for consultancy work.
But Burns did not tell either mutual society that she was simultaneously seeking work from Vanguard.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: ‘Directors have a duty to disclose or avoid conflicts of interest so they can be addressed by the board.
‘In this case, Ms Burns placed herself in a position where her duty as a non-executive director may have conflicted with concurrent opportunities she was pursuing. This was neither disclosed nor, as a consequence, could it be addressed by the board.
‘This was inappropriate and inconsistent with the standards of integrity expected from senior managers.’
The case has been a long-running and costly one. The then Financial Services Aurthority (FSA) initially fined Burns £154,800 in 2012, but she appealed the decision and although it upheld four of the 10 allegations against her, the Upper Tribunal ruled in 2015 that the penalty was ‘wholly excessive’. The tribunal said it should be cut to £20,000 and ordered what was by then the FCA to repay her £100,000 in legal costs.