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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Happy Birthday FSA

The financial Services Authority (FSA), as it celebrates its 5th birthday, has come under a barrage of criticism.

Roy Leighton, chairman of the Financial Services Practitioner Panel (FSPP), has called for a clear-out of "dead wood" in the FSA.

A report by the FSPP said that overall industry satisfaction levels with the FSA had shown little or no improvement in the past two years.

The report calls for personnel changes, and claims that some of the less senior officials had a box-ticking approach and an unhelpful attitude.

Leighton said:

"There is undoubtedly some dead wood there.

They're not able to make the qualitative decisions [necessary in a principles-based regulatory regime] when they have been used to box-ticking

To add to the FSA's woes, John Gummer MP and chairman of AIFA (the Association of Independent Financial Advisers), also "put the boot in" so to speak.

Gummer was speaking at the annual AIFA dinner on Thursday night. He used his speech to criticise the FSA for unfairly undermining IFAs in a recent press release.

He said that an FSA statement on advertising mortgage promotions in the sub prime sector gave the impression that IFAs mislead the public more than banks or lenders.


"When we investigated, we found that the incidence of failure in large scale operations (banks) was twice as high as it was in IFAs and this was not mentioned in the FSA press release."

Adding that the FSA had given the impression that there was "something wrong with IFAs when their research showed the opposite to be true".

Warming to his theme, Gummer went on to accuse the FSA of failing to meet a legislative requirement to consult industry before setting down new rules or guidelines.

He said that the principles-based regulation was a primary cause of this problem and confusion and shirked fundamental guidelines put down by parliament, that "the regulator must be regulated by proper regulation".

Stephen Bland, director of the FSA's Small Firms Division and Retail Intermediary sector leader, said:

"We of course accept that AIFA will have strong views on subjects close to their members' hearts and that they are perfectly entitled to say them. On this occasion, however, we felt that the comments did not display a full understanding of where the FSA is coming from, which is disappointing given the frequent contact we have with them."

Happy Birthday FSA!

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