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£1.25m cost of FSA Xmas parties

The FSA spent over £100,000 on staff Christmas parties last year despite the outcry over the previous year’s figures, taking total spending to £1.25m since 2004.

Information obtained by Money Marketing through a Freedom of Information request, from recently audited figures, shows the regulator has spent a total of £1,259,624 on staff Christmas parties over the last six years. This includes the £228,462 cost for staff parties held over the festive period at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

The amount spent breaks down as £140,569 in 2004, £246,189 in 2005, £265,171 in 2006, £271,419 in 2007, £228,462 in 2008 and £107,814 in 2009.

The FSA says it cannot disclose how much it spent on staff flights and accommodation to attend Christmas parties as calculating it would cost too much.

An FSA spokeswoman says: “We do not hold an organisation-wide Christmas party or encourage departmental parties but we provide a budget of £60 per head including VAT for some form of staff event during the year. It is not £60 per head regardless, it is an absolute limit. The budget can be used but does not have to be.”

Adviser Alliance director Alan Lakey says: “The FSA has a legal obligation to spend its budget in a manner consistent with its duties. This is an unacceptable use of IFAs’ money.”

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Comments

There are 73 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. They are an absolute disgrace This goverment do themelves no favours by supporting a totally discredited organisation.

  2. So who wants to bet this becomes the most commented upon story over the next week. Well done Natalie…..

  3. 3,700 staff work at FSA = £338 per person.

  4. So this is where our fees go?!

    This is outrageous.

  5. For goodness sake, its a small amount of money in the scheme of things to keep staff motivated and a reward for hard work. Despite what you think about the FSA, staff still deserve to be rewarded. I am sure you are all doing the same thing for your own staff and if not – shame on you!

  6. How come they can afford Christmas parties when they have a shortfall in their pension fund.I appreciate everyone can do with some fun at Christmas but it must be within sensible criteria. The interesting point is that they cannot provide cost of travel/hotels/flights, I bet this would show an embarressing figure. It cannot be that difficult to work out for a one off event every year. If we came up with the excuse that we could not provide information due to cost we would no doubt be classed “as not fit for purpose” The usual one rule for us and another for them

  7. DISGRACEFUL!! but they don’t care do they! it’s not their money they are spending it’s ours, the IFA. it’s about time that we stood up and made them realise who pays the bills.

  8. Richard Blackshaw 9th December 2010 at 10:26 am

    Obscene, obscene, obscene, obscene!! What a disgusting use of public money by a public body!

    I will be going again to a party with my wife this year, run by a public media company and as usual we will pay for everything ourselves as THAT public body uses its finances for the the people that pay for it….the PUBLIC.

    Why arent MP’s screaming about this gravy train of an unelected, unnaccountable body of useless, self promoting fools!

    I, like many of my peers, cant wait to be rid of this business without destroying my family in the process. The only plus side to this business is the people I actually deal with, who, after over 20 years of dealing with them, most have become good friends as well as clients. God help this country with the likes of this power house body of the FSA being let loose with all their unconfirmed wisdom!

  9. Absolute disgrace. There had better be a very large staff contribution. About time they joined the real world.

  10. £60 per head is not unreasonable. It’s a huge sum when considered in isolation but there are a lot of employees – let’s not begrudge them a bit of Christmas spirit.

  11. So by my calculations that means there were 1797 employees celebrating Christmas at the FSA in 2009, 3808 in 2008…

  12. More nonsense from a totally amoral organisation.
    When are they going to be brought under control ?

  13. I work hard, pay my FSA fees but I can’t afford a Christmas party. Its an absloute disgrace, what about the FSA giving me some motivation and reward for my hard work Sarah Smith, lower my fees, that would be start!

  14. I feel sure all those IFA’s and Intermediaries who had to lay off staff, close their businesses and or work for nothing during the last few years will be truly warmed by the news that the FSA still chucked their fees around like confetti when it came to cossetting the FSA’s own employees…

  15. This is what happens when you allow an organisation to be “unaccountable”, and outside of even government control and those who pay its costs.

    Can I have one please, as it must be great to be able to do and spend what one likes with no responsibility or accountability?

  16. Gillian Farkas-Blake 9th December 2010 at 10:35 am

    I thought that the FSA were funded through levies rather than public money. Even so….

    Wow! Doesn’t this show how reviled our regulator has become that we begrudge their staff a Christmas jolly (regardless of the true figure of cost per head)!

  17. the fsa say ‘they cannot disclose how much they spend on staff flights and accomodation to attend xmas parties as calculating it would cost too much’ Have they not heard of a register such as the ones we complete such as return cherque log, complaints log, gifts log, t&C log etc that are required to satisfy FSA regulations

    The costs of these flight/accom are possible in the order of hundreds of pounds? this is the same type of reason given by our now disgraced MPs THE FSA DO NOT GET IT AND THEY ARE THE POLICY MAKERS GOD HELP THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY WITH THIS SHOWER SETTING STANDARDSI

  18. I have to agree with Ian on this one £60 per head is not unreasonable and it is the same many of us will spend per head on our staff over the Christmas break

  19. Clearly some IFA’s out there aren’t very good at reading or maths! The £1.25 million is the total over 6 years. Last year’s cost per head was £29, which is hardly a large amount to spend on staff for a Christmas meal.

  20. I think I’ll try that excuse when I have to submit another pointless pile of numbers – I’m not doing it because “calculating it would cost too much.” Let’s see how quickly that becomes unacceptable.

  21. On one hand it is good that they have a Christmas party subsidised by us on the other perhaps a little of that good cheer and spirit should be showed to those who help pay for them to enjoy themselves?

  22. Taking the P**s or wot!

  23. 3,700 staff work at FSA = £338 per person.

    That’s a complete disgrace. Everybody needs christmas fun, but quite frankly they are taking the mick. We had our xmas party the other day which was great fun, involved everybody and was very affordable. It’s great news like this is published whihc just adds to what the vast majority think of the FSA who are pathetic. Ican see this and I’veonly been in teh iundustry for 5 months!

  24. Disgusting – but typical of the quangocracy ruining financial services and the civil service mentality that thinks, even in these bad economic times, that frivously spending other people’s money is OK!

  25. Maths really is not the IFA’s strong point. For 2009 this works out as less than £30 a head based on 3,700 staff.

    Personally, I do not mind this.

    What I do mind is the inefficiencies at the FSA which I have a feeling will be replicated in the new regulator post 2012. Hopefully this can be ironed out.

  26. Although, if it did work out to be £60 per head than that would be an acceptable cost per person. We certainly spent that much and it is a good way to keep the staff motivated. It is the hidden cost of the hotel and travel which ceoncerns me.

  27. Its time the government got rid of this shower.
    How did the people of the UK ever manage before they came on the scene.
    Now we have a hell of alot less advisers and an awful lot of people out there that have no cover at all.

  28. Hmm, £29 per head this year doesn’t seem unreasonable – according to my basic maths there were more employees, the limit was higher, or they exceeded their £60 limit a few years on the trot up to last year, but this year £29 does not seem excessive.

    However that doesn’t cover the cost of transport or accommodation. Whilst it might ‘cost too much to calculate’ – which sort of makes sense as it will predominantly be related to expenses claims I guess, and some of that will not be Christmas related so would require detailed analysis, it should be possible to get some idea – perhaps a FOI request for monthly expense totals – that ought to be in the budget as a single line – and then seasonal variation gives you the (rough) answer as to how much is Christmas related.

    For the record, I think the ‘bonus for failure’ culture during the financial crisis was a far greater problem than a bit of Chrimbo excess, and the current obsession with removing independent financial advice from anyone not (yet) wealthy is worse still.

    But I don’t revile them – just wish they were a bit more worldly.

  29. What’s all the fuss about? A mere £200K can easily be covered by imposing a couple of relatively modest fines!

  30. Green Eyed Monster 9th December 2010 at 11:05 am

    The FSA were misquoted.

    It should have read:

    An FSA spokeswoman says: “We do not hold an organisation-wide Christmas party or encourage departmental parties but our regulated firms kindly provide a budget of £60 per head including VAT for some form of staff event during the year. It is not £60 per head regardless, it is an absolute limit. The budget can be used but does not have to be. We are very grateful to our regulated firms for their generosity in this matter”

  31. I hold no brief for the FSA but if this is the worst we can throw at them then clearly there is an air of desperation involved.
    Personally I couldn’t care less how much they spend on Christmas parties (within reason, and this appears to be well within reason); there are rather more pressing and serious faults we should be discussing.

  32. It is a very worrying trend that far too many commentors have a shocking grasp of numbers and maths! For the 3700 employees at the FSA in 2009 the bill was £107,814. This is therefore £29 per head not the £337 figure some have quoted (the 6 year bill divided by the 2009 employees).
    Perhaps those calling for extra exams are right afterall???

  33. I wonder which guests were invited! I bet Hoban has had an invite!
    He could be invited to our Christmas party at McDonalds I’m sure we would make him welcome!

  34. Member of the public 9th December 2010 at 11:10 am

    It’s no wonder less than 50% of IFAs are passing the QCF level 4 exams, given the lack of basic arithmetic skills on display in these comments …

  35. Christopher Bearfoot 9th December 2010 at 11:16 am

    I’m not sure if it matters whether the amount is £29/head per year or £60, the issue as far as I am concerned is the use of levies to pay for additional staff benefits.

    Those of us in the private sector can choose what we spend on motivating our staff whether this be at Christmas or some other time of year as it is our own money that we are spending and it comes off our own bottom line.

    In many public sector departments, this would not be allowed to continue since their budgets are set by the Treasury and a simple way of saving £000s would be to cancel employer-funded parties during times of austerity. I can also recall working for a mutual organisation in the past where it was felt inappropriate to spend money on staff parties because it was our members’ money we were spending, not our own.

    Regrettably, it would appear as if this entertainment has become an entrenched ‘right’ of staff without a thought to where the funding comes from. It would be sensitive at a time like the present (as well as good PR) for them to consider whether it is an appropriate use of other people’s money.

  36. Shocking! The number of IFAs who can’t wield a calculator!

    Most companies spend about £30 a head on their staff Christmas bash, I thought you only behaved like a bunch of childish whingers when talking about RDR – clearly it’s an inherent IFA trait. Go compare your commission earnings to the average clerical worker at the FSA.

    Happy Christmas you bunch of scrooges.

  37. £60.00 doesn’t go far at The Dorchester you know. Perhaps each registered individual should make a small additional contribution to help along a little.

  38. £60 per head seems quite reasonable. They still need to keep their staff motivated. It must be a pretty difficult place to work at the moment… If people leave, the cost of recruitment and training would surely be far higher than the cost of a Christmas Do. If it helps to lift staff morale and retain employees I don’t have a problem with it…

  39. Another member of public 9th December 2010 at 11:27 am

    OMG!
    I’m supposed to trust you guys with my money and a) you cannot divide one number by another and b) you spend all your time moaning about people celebrating Xmas.
    Good luck with those exams guys.

  40. Well done Money Marketing!

    How to make a mountain out of a molehill….

    I have many criticisms of the FSA but your headline is nothing short of pathetic scaremongering.

    Natalie Holt – hang your head in shame. £1.25m since 2004 is a lot of money – but equates to £50-60 per person per year – in Central London.

    Quite restrained for the FSA – and not unreasonable at all.

    So, Natalie, how much is your Xmas do costing at Money Marketing? Maybe we should have a figure of £10m – the cost of a lifetime’s Xmas Parties for the business.

    You do yourself no favours by this sensationalist journalism – it simply masks the real stories when they come out.

    Bah Humbug!

    And Happy Christmas to you all!

  41. Natalie Holt who wrote the article, decided to use a shocking headline, which upon reading inferred it may have been the cost for just one years Christmas party. Having used this to attract our attention, the article does go on to make the matter much clearer.
    The point that worries me is how many contributors have become incensed by the miscalculated figures of over £300 per head. Do you not read the full article before jumping to make a rant? Our inability to understand a straightforward article or make simple calculations would leave us looking rather foolish with a client.

    Perhaps if Natalie had not used such tactics, the story of the FSA spending £107,814 in 2009 would have been more of a damp squib report and not really newsworthy.

    Meanwhile we have egg on our faces and as an industry we don’t appear very professional do we?

  42. Yawn yawn old news who cares

  43. I find it amusing that some people on here are trying to turn this debate around to having a dig at IFAs with their uninformed sweeping statements.

    Going back to the point of Christmas parties, people need to release that not everyone in the private sector has a Christmas party provided for them!

    It is not a given right to employees and it sounds like some in the public section clearly seem to think that it is.

    Current economic climate = private sector cut backs which include Christmas parties. The FSA is funded by IFA’s, many of which may not be able to provided all of their staff with Chrismas Parties this year.

  44. DISGRACEFUL!!
    I am just about holding onto my company having made people redundant in the last couple of years – and my home as well.

    No Christmas parties for us this year.

    What exactly is the useless FSA doing for me – apart from putting my fees up??

  45. The outrage about this is not in isolation but simply another slap in the face by a self serving body. No one would begrudge a party except for the fact it is being being paid for by many small companies who have had to lay off staff. There is a complete lack of confidence in this group and no choice by IFA’s over increased fees. Of course it is insulting and self employed persons who are accountale for income and budgets will feel great resentment. What are the FSA doing to promote our industry or serve the general public? I send questionaires to all clients to ensure I am aware of my businesses overall performance, perhaps the FSA should do likewise.

  46. Aren’t we all just spending other people’s money, is that not how the world functions? I take fees from clients and pay it as salary (sometimes even to myself shock horror!) so if I also gave my staff a xmas bonus and a pot to have a jolly would my customers really care? I doubt it. So I would say to all the complainers, get a life enjoy xmas and study hard for those maths exams!

  47. The amount spent is not the issue, it is the fact they have spent it at all given the horrific mistakes the FSA have made or been part of over the years which we are all going to pay for for decades to come.

    Reward success but not failure after failure please.

    They are paid well enough to be able to pay for their own Christmas party.

  48. The inability of many of my colleagues to work out the maths is rather worrying! However, several have correctly calculated the cost for 2009 at £29 per head, which doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

    What is more worrying, however, is the average cost in earlier years when staff numbers were (I suspect) lower. And what is even more worrying is the unknown cost of travel and accommodation and the apparent inability of the FSA to account for it.

  49. The headline did not tell us the initial true story BUT in difficult times the extravagance of a party should be over looked and replaced by perhaps a small gift.
    Do not know which organisation is worst, FSA or FIFA.

  50. I have no problem with the FSA staff having a Christmas party at my/our expense. The vast majority of those we deal with on a day to day basis are helpful and pleasant.

    The thought that the “upper echelons” enjoy the same largesse on their obscene and unearned salaries is another matter.

    Oh yes, note to HMRC. Could you clarify at what point travel costs to a Christmas party became an allowable expense.

    Happy Christmas All, and a merry New Year.

  51. Waste, waste and more waste, the sooner the FSA is put down the better. Just like the BBC and local councils, where you have to pay ,they can waste our money just how they choose. Roll on 2012!!!

  52. Its the inability of the FSA to account for travel and accomodation that is the main reason for the large number of IFA commenting on this.I cannot imagine they would accept the same excuse in reverse – we cannot tell you how many gifts we recieve because the costs would be too much for us. !!

    There are a few laid back ‘advisers’ who do not seem to be bothered I can imagine a few FSA personnel blog on this website faking it as advisers ?/?????? wot?

  53. So much for ‘ hard times’ ! Try working in the private sector where I paid for every christmas party i went to – i thought that was the norm, how wrong can you be !!!

  54. Gerald Lambourne 9th December 2010 at 1:33 pm

    It’s strange how austerity measures only seem to apply to those who contribute to the economy and not to those parasitic organisations that live off the backs of other peoples efforts.

    Most people are worried about having a job after Christmas not how lavish their Christmas party will be. It seems that the FSA have not learnt any lessons from the MP’s expenses scandal.

    Still let’s wish them a Happy Christmas but perhaps not quite such a prosperous New Year.

  55. Just in case the FSA are listening in –

    You should be ashamed. The FSA is a National disgrace.

  56. FSA = Festive Spending Authority!!!!!!

  57. Neil F Liversidge 9th December 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Put the humbugs away folks. Your clients pay for your Xmas party just like mine pay for mine and we as customers of the FSA pay for theirs. That is the reality of business: ultimately the customer pays for everything. If you ignore that then you are as guilty of a lack of commercial realism as the FSA usually is. I sincerely wish a merry Christmas to all at Canary Wharfe, though I suspect that if all my ‘friends’ in the FSA wanted to have a party, they could probably hold it in a phone booth!

  58. Cannot see the problem here, after all it is turkeys for turkeys.

  59. Re Neil Liversidge’s Post
    At least our clients have a choice of whether or not to continue to fund us evidenced by the fact that they choose to remain as clients.
    You say we are “customers” of the FSA that is incorrect. We are not customers we are captives, there is no choice and only one way out.
    merry christmas.

  60. Rather than complaining and spending time getting in a tiz about a few quid being spent on a xmas party should you all not be better off studying for level 4?

  61. Classic stuff this. One must take a balanced view though, I wonder what else this bunch of fools spend our money on ?. It certainly isn’t on progress.

  62. Don’t allow yourselves to get wound up by this!Ho Ho Ho!

  63. I am not having an xmas party, but I’m paying for theirs.

  64. I am an IFA and have been for 16 years. It’s been a tough time these last 2 years – not of my making.

    This has meant, however, that my family has not had a holiday during this time. We have stopped going out for meals.

    We cannot afford desperately needed replacement cars and the children will be getting a lot less presents than normal this Christmas.

    Do I begrudge the £29 per head – PLUS hotel and travelling costs which could easily take it to £200 – YES.

    I am paying for this whether I like it or not. The FSA are incompetent. They are a law unto themselves.

    I resent them and I have good reason to.

  65. Whichever way you want to cut it – this is really not acceptable.

    1. They are funded entirely by the industry, who in general don’t hold then in terribly high regard. Therefore if nothing else this is an awful PR gaffe.

    2. Please don’t compare this organisation with Private Enterprise – who in the main create wealth – the FSA – together with other Quangos and Government Departments do not create wealth and in many instances actually destroy it.

    3. If you look at the average salaries of the FSA, many advisers would be quite glad to be on that scale. Therefore they can hardly be counted as ‘hard up’ – so with a whip round (as indeed happens in many commercial organisations – who save up throughout the year) they are in a position to pay for this ‘jolly’ themselves.

    I’m afraid this yet again demonstrates their insensibility and does nothing to enhance their standing in the eyes of those it regulates. Poor show.

  66. The FSA
    Unacceptable
    Unelected
    Unaccountable
    Unscrupulouse
    Unbelievable

  67. 2009 was my worst ever year in financial services due to the depressed state of the mortgage market, a market ‘regulated’ by the FSA. Regardless of the prevailing economic conditions the regulator hiked my fee by a fairly considerable amount.
    With a declining income and increasing fees surely the FSA could have shown that they have some sympathy with their ‘clients’ and not spent ANY money on festivities.
    Sadly ‘they just don’t get it’, it is not the amount per head it is the impression they give to struggling business’ during a severe recession.

    Hectoring Sants donated a £108,000 bonus to charity! Why did he not fund the party and save money?

    “There are none so blind as they who cannot see.”

  68. Anonymous | 10 Dec 2010 2:11 pm

    The FSA
    Unacceptable
    Unelected
    Unaccountable
    Unscrupulouse
    Unbelievable

    Unwanted?

  69. One wonders what the FSA’s reaction would be to a regulated person or business declining to submit their RMA Return on the grounds that (apart from it being a crock of the proverbial) compiling it would cost too much. Ah, as David Kenmir used to be fond of saying, That’s different. Isn’t it always?

    So much for the FSA’s claim to be a open and transparent regulator, accountable to the industry that funds it. Just another lie.

  70. Well once I’m gone I’m gone, I am developing an alternative line of business, no more regulation and mis appropriation of fees outside my control. Why spend your good time and money adhering to something that will more than likely change yet again?

  71. Maybe there is an understandable excuse for this sensationalist journalism after all – it turns out that Money Marketing had their Christmas party cancelled for the last two years! What a disgrace!

    Centaur Media Plc, the publishers of Money Marketing, did have a rough year last year but they still netted a £1.7m profit. To have refused to spend £40k of this on a Christmas party for the staff, no doubt using the “times of austerity excuse” is unforgiveable.

    In his opening statement to the report and accounts for the year to 30 June 2009 Graham Sherren, the then Chairman of Centaur Media said “We are in great shape as a business.” If you don’t look after your staff, all of the time, don’t expect them to look after you all of the time. Hopefully Money Marketing are having a Christmas party this year and so Centaur will, in fact, be in great shape going forward.

    As to the FSAs Christmas party costs, last year’s spend represented less than 0.025% of total fees. This is a genuine and reasonable element of the cost of regulation and if you begrudge the 3700 people at this FSA this, then shame on you.

    What this country needs is a sense of optimism, lets hope that 2011 sees an end to this sort of demoralising, penny pinching by those with money – our economy depends on it!

    Have a great Christmas

    Ian

  72. What a lot of fuss! The real story behind the story is the extortionate price of corporate Christmas parties. When venues like hotels, racecourses etc. do parties for a few hundred people and charge £80 or £90 per head, their margin is huge but quality is low. A £60 per person subsidy is still not going to cover it, so the employee pays a third. Not unreasonable really. Or wouldn’t be, if the ‘supreme of turkey’ you get for your money was worthy of the price tag.

  73. Re Ian Lowes.
    “As to the FSAs Christmas party costs, last year’s spend represented less than 0.025% of total fees. This is a genuine and reasonable element of the cost of regulation and if you begrudge the 3700 people at this FSA this, then shame on you.”
    I do begrudge them ANYTHING which comes out of MY hard earned cash so shame on me-NOT

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