FCA Sets Out ‘Mission’ as British Bank Regulator Ushers In New Era

Updated on
  • ‘Mission’ published Tuesday setting out principles, priorities
  • Brexit, PPI campaign are focus for next year in business plan

Brexit Triggered: What Happens Now?

The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority will prioritize advising the government on Brexit and helping consumers with improperly sold payment-protection insurance, according to its business plan, published alongside a “mission” statement that seeks to usher in a new era at the regulator.

The FCA allocated 2.5 million pounds ($3.2 million) for Brexit costs over the next year, about 0.5 percent of its 526.9 million-pound budget, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bailey said at a press conference Tuesday in London. The amount was relatively small because the agency is trying to absorb as much as it could through its existing spending.

On PPI, the FCA will work on a campaign to make sure consumers are aware of an August 2019 deadline to file claims, the agency said in the business plan. Banks have already paid out 26.2 billion pounds in PPI compensation to consumers.

Other areas to focus on include helping vulnerable customers, improving banking culture and governance and combating cybercrime. Alongside the annual plan, the FCA set out a blueprint to more clearly define the authority’s agenda for the industry and public after a turbulent few years for the regulator.

"The mission gives firms and consumers greater clarity about how and why we prioritize, protect and intervene in financial markets," Bailey said in a statement. "When we make regulatory judgments, we will be more transparent about how we reached them."

Shoot First

Bailey, who was previously Bank of England Deputy Governor, took the role of FCA CEO in July, one year after former chief Martin Wheatley was ousted by then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Wheatley’s departure came after a number of crises at the regulator including a debacle about how it handled a press briefing that sent shares of some of the largest insurers plummeting and a misguided comment that the FCA should "shoot first, ask questions later."

The FCA issued a draft of the “mission” document in October, which was followed by a three-month consultation. The plan, which was overseen by Bailey, is viewed as an attempt by the four-year-old regulator to draw a line under previous issues and start a new era.

The FCA highlighted work on extending the Senior Managers and Certification Regime to the entire financial industry next year in its business plan. The SMCR puts the onus on firms to approve individuals as fit and proper to work for them and more clearly outlines the responsibilities of senior individuals to improve accountability.

At the press conference Tuesday, Bailey was also asked about the FCA’s view on whistle-blowing following the recent scandal at Barclays Plc where Chief Executive Jes Staley tried to identify an individual behind the complaint. Bailey said he couldn’t comment on the Staley situation, but emphasized whistle-blowing was "very important" to the regulator and the agency relies on tips to aid its work.

(Updates from second paragraph with more details on Brexit costs.)
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