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Confidentiality and conflict of interest

07 July 2006 Angelo Coppola

This time we turn our attention to looking after the greater good, and I wonder aloud when confidentiality clauses are counter productive and work against protecting the interests of the consumer, or other advisors.

Sound a little blue sky? Well stay with me.

We ran a story recently about the uptake and processing of applications at the FSB, and in that story was a little gem about two licences being withdrawn, with no reason provided, except to say that they the principals didn't meet the fit and proper requirements. But that the details couldn't be revealed.

Now I suggest that this entire confidentiality issue has been taken a little far. Next the people who are no longer deemed fit and proper will be calling for privacy and protection. Worse still, those found guilty of behaviour unbecoming will also not want the details to be revealed.

Enough of this officer and a gentleman nonsense. If someone has been guilty of an offence, and struck from the role, provide the details. Why? Well, it let's any other operators in that business sector know that if they are considering anything potentially illegal, the regulators are on top of things.

And just as importantly it lets the consumer know that the regulator is on top of things and that particular illegal activity has been flagged, and consumers have been warned.

All regulators, those governing individuals, and the service providers have an obligation to make known the facts in a particular finding. The PFA has set the tone and the other regulators should be following suit. Name, shame and detail them.

And the practice of listing people who have been struck from a particular role should be more widely publicized. Carrying the information in industry publications and websites doesn't really cut it.

It should be displayed in all consumer publications and more specifically in those publications whose readers, or viewers who might be potential targets for nefarious activities.

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