Castle Trust welcomes the FCA’s announcement today regarding its intervention on mini-bonds. These rules do not apply to our Fortress Bonds and there is no change to our customers being eligible for FSCS protection. Castle Trust will continue to sell Fortress Bonds beyond 1 January 2020, when the FCA’s intervention takes effect. Castle Trust remains on course to become a bank in early 2020 and we will continue to provide you with updates as our application progresses.
What is the FCA’s decision?
The FCA has today announced it is introducing temporary rules to prevent consumer harm, by banning the promotion of high risk speculative mini-bonds to most retail consumers. The rules will apply from 1 January to 31 December 2020.
How does this affect Castle Trust’s Fortress Bonds?
These rules do not apply to Castle Trust’s Fortress Bonds and there is no action required by either Castle Trust or its customers. Because they are listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, Fortress Bonds are not considered to be ‘illiquid speculative securities’ and are therefore exempt from the FCA’s intervention.
Why has the FCA taken this decision?
The FCA has used its temporary product intervention powers because it is concerned about the widespread marketing of speculative illiquid securities, particularly online. They are high risk and difficult for most retail investors to understand. The FCA is concerned that retail customers may receive misleading information suggesting these products are more secure or less risky than is the case.
Could this affect Fortress Bonds in the future?
We do not expect the action taken by the FCA to affect Fortress Bonds in the future. In September 2019, we wrote to all Fortress Bond holders explaining that Castle Trust had been invited by our regulators to apply to become a bank. When we become a bank, we will consult with customers on the opportunity to have Fortress Bonds converted to bank deposits, still paying the same interest rate and still maturing on the same date. We will explain the process for doing this closer to the time we become a bank.
Are Housa Bonds affected by these rules?
No. Castle Trust no longer offers Housa Bonds and they do not fall within the scope of this intervention.
How is Castle Trust performing at the moment?
We are pleased with the performance of the business to date, which is why we believe that this is a good time for us to move towards becoming a bank. You can find information about our latest financial performance on our website. In the six months to March 2019, we made a profit after tax of £1.2m. Our next financial statements will be published in January 2020.