No one can accuse our regulator of not doing its bit to keep the unemployment stats down. In the last 4 years, the head count at the FCA has increased from 2,511 to 3,379. That’s 35%. Costs went up by a more modest 25% to £334 million. Frank Field, who chairs the Work and Pensions committee has said that he is ‘gobsmacked’ and also ‘quite stunned’ by the figures. He will push for a government probe into why, with all this funding, the regulator is not functioning better.
He has a case. For example, many of us have been aware for a long time that the FCA register cannot necessarily be relied upon. Recently this came to the fore when an investor checked the register to see whether a company he wished to invest with was bona fide. The register said it was, so he went ahead. Only when he had lost all his money was it admitted that the company had in fact been de-authorised some 4 years previously. Surely to goodness, keeping a register up to date is not difficult? A big part of the problem is that by and large the FCA sets its own targets, giving themselves for example, generous response times for simple matters. There is a culture of tardiness. One is reminded of the old forces quotation ‘this officer sets himself the lowest standards, but continually fails to live up to them.’ With superb timing, as we go to press, we hear that the regulator took 400 staff to the Queen Elizabeth Conference centre recently to spend an afternoon learning African drumming. This apparently is ‘perfect for energising and enthusing the weariest of attendees and reinforcing corporate messages’. An anonymous ‘weary attendee’ described the event as ‘an egregious waste of money’. (What is someone who knows a word like ‘egregious’ doing working for the FCA?). Hopefully our Frank will rattle a few cages. Someone needs to. Certainly the regulator has improved in recent years, and Andrew Bailey is the best CEO we have had. But it still has a long way to go before it reaches the levels of professionalism demonstrated by the majority of those whom it regulates.
The above is the lead article in our latest monthly News Notes – September 2018. Other topics in this edition include:
- Lame Lisa
- Pension Lump Sums
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Haven Risk Management : FCA Compliance Consultants