Money Marketing revealed this week that the FSA is restructuring internally to create a new division solely dedicated to retail conduct risk, to be headed up by Waters.
He will move across from the retail policy division.
He’s not the first to jump ship. Amanda Bowe stepped down from her role as head of the retail distribution review after the RDR feedback statement was published last October.
She moved across to the regulator’s financial capability unit as head of strategy, partnership and evaluation, amid market rumours that she was unhappy with the outcome of the paper.
Money Marketing revealed last month that Sarah Wilson, who, while not directly involved with RDR but the FSA’s director of treating customers fairly, had announced her resignation internally.
Despite the loss of such key figures, the FSA insists that the implementation of the RDR will continue, unaffected by the changes.
A spokesperson says: “There is a team dedicated to implementing the RDR and that won’t change. The focus, resources and timeframe will remain the same.”
The FSA says the restructure highlights the regulator’s newly increased focus on identifying, assessing and mitigating risks to consumers. The new retail conduct risk division will also support FSA supervisors and analyse emerging risks across the retail market.
What’s unclear is whether this is a political move from the FSA, or a reaction to current market conditions.
Is the restructure in some way a response to the call from Sir James Sassoon to separate conduct of business and prudential regulatory responsibilities in his review of the tripartite regime for the Tories?
Is the regulator preparing for a Tory government to come to power in the not-too-distant future?
Or is the FSA merely trying to adapt its model to avoid the regulatory failings that have emerged in the current crisis?
Personal Finance Society chief executive Fay Goddard says it’s the latter.
She says: “The FSA has had to restructure because the perception is that it has failed consumers. It is an inevitable reaction to market conditions.”
Technology & Technical founder Kim North says she’s concerned that the RDR will be led by someone with no experience of the issues facing advisers.
She says: “I’m worried that the FSA will recruit someone from one of the big four accountancy firms who won’t understand the issues facing the market. We need someone who knows what it’s like to sit behind a desk and advise clients, not an intellectual with no understanding of financial services.”
Do you think the loss of Waters, or any of the other recent departures, will affect the RDR? What are your thoughts on the restructure? Let me know by posting comments below.