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AXA Fined $2.9 Million in U.K. for Poor Advice, Bonus Incentives

Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- AXA SA’s U.K. wealth services unit was fined 1.8 million pounds ($2.9 million) for giving poor advice to some of its customers about investment products.

AXA Wealth Services will contact customers and decide whether to compensate them, the London-based U.K. Financial Conduct Authority said in a statement today.

AXA didn’t always explain the risks of products it was selling, gather enough information from customers, and failed to make sure consumers could manage investments if their value fell, the FCA said. The insurer also had an “unacceptable risk” that sales advisers would give inappropriate recommendations to customers to boost their own bonuses, the regulator said.

“AXA fell short of its responsibilities to customers, many of whom were elderly, retired and financially inexperienced,” Tracey McDermott, the FCA’s head of enforcement, said in the statement.

The Paris-based insurer sold about 37,000 investment products to 26,000 customers during the relevant period, from Sept. 15, 2010, and April 30, 2012, according to the regulator.

“We are cooperating with the regulator, we are very serious in regulatory compliance,” said Axa’s Paris-based spokeswoman Garance Wattez-Richard. “We regret that the advice didn’t fulfill FCA’s very high standards.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at lfortado@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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