The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today published a Decision Notice issued to Andrew Barry Hart, director of Wage Payment and Payday Loans Limited (WPPL), and a Decision Notice issued to WPPL. The FCA has decided to prohibit Mr Hart from performing any role in regulated financial services and has decided to cancel WPPL’s interim permission.
WPPL is a consumer credit firm that provides payday loans (a form of high-cost short-term credit) under the trading names 'Payday Overdraft', ‘Wagepayday’ and ‘Doshloans’. Mr Hart is the sole director, controller and ultimate owner of WPPL.
Mr Hart and WPPL dispute the FCA’s decisions and have referred their cases to the Upper Tribunal (the Tribunal). Accordingly, the findings in these Decision Notices are provisional pending the Tribunal’s determination of Mr Hart and WPPL’s references. In relation to the FCA’s decisions to prohibit Mr Hart from any regulated role and cancel WPPL’s interim permission, the Tribunal will determine whether to dismiss the reference or remit it to the FCA with a direction to reconsider and reach a decision in accordance with the findings of the Tribunal. The Tribunal’s decisions will be published on its website.
The FCA has found that Mr Hart is not a fit and proper person because he lacks integrity and competence. In the FCA’s view, between 1 April 2014 and 28 August 2014, he took a reckless approach to managing WPPL and to complying with regulatory requirements. Mr Hart recklessly contributed to and failed to address unfair business practices carried on by WPPL.
Mr Hart failed to take reasonable steps to implement appropriate policies and procedures relating to creditworthiness, affordability and forbearance. He also failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that WPPL had appropriate systems in place to communicate with customers, to ensure that customer complaints were dealt with adequately, to provide proper oversight of WPPL’s staff and to ensure that WPPL’s loan agreements complied with regulatory requirements.
Mr Hart’s failings had a direct impact on WPPL’s customers, who were often treated unfairly and were frequently misled. Customer complaints were commonly disregarded, and excessive sums were taken out of some customers’ bank accounts. In some cases these practices caused financial loss to customers, many of whom were already in financial difficulties.
On 28 August 2014, WPPL submitted an application for the imposition of requirements on its interim permission. Since that date, WPPL has not been permitted to lend to new or existing customers or to engage in any outbound collection of any debts due to it under regulated credit agreements (except in the limited circumstances specified in the requirements on its interim permission).
The FCA has decided to cancel WPPL’s interim permission because it is failing to satisfy the threshold conditions regarding appropriate resources and suitability, for reasons including its connection with Mr Hart.
Notes to editors
- The Decision Notice for Andrew Barry Hart.
- The Decision Notice for WPPL.
- WPPL’s Application for Imposition of Requirements dated 28 August 2014.
- Mr Hart is not an approved person. During the interim permission period following the transfer of regulation of the consumer credit sector from the Office of Fair Trading to the FCA, there was no requirement for senior managers of consumer credit firms to be approved. Upon application for full authorisation, such individuals will need to become approved persons.
- On 1 April 2013, the FCA became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the PRA. On 1 April 2014, the FCA took over responsibility for consumer credit regulation.
- The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
- Find out more information about the FCA.