So, the FCA’s new approach intends to address all past failings of the FSA. Wow. All of them? That is a pretty massive mission statement. Where will it start? The list of failings to be addressed is long indeed.
Will it start by living up to the claims on the FSA’s website to being “an open and transparent regulator”? Or will this claim be conveniently omitted from the FCA’s website home page?
Will it observe the requirements of the statutory code of practice for regulators (which the FSA totally ignores)?
Will it make a sincere attempt to reduce its budget by relocating three-quarters of its staff to vastly less expensive accommodation well away from E14? Will it scrap the £20m-plus it earmarks each year for staff and directors’ bonuses of highly questionable merit?
Will it from now on publish all feedback received in response to its consultations, for all to see and to debate in open forum? Will it actually take any notice of that feedback? Or will it continue to regard (and dismiss) them as being based merely on self interest?
Will it scrap proposed new initiatives if its cost benefit analyses are found to have been a wildly inaccurate understatement of the true costs (as seen with the RDR)?
Will it take responsibility for the consequences of any motorway pile-ups that it should have anticipated and averted but which it fails to (instead of dumping the costs onto the IFA sector)? In any future cases where the findings of an Arrow visit have not been acted upon, will it offer an explanation as to just why?
Will it put an end to its practice of reviewing everything by hindsight and holding everybody else to account for its failure to have issued proper guidance?
Will it issue an unequivocal undertaking not to twist round provider failures to being intermediary failures (as the FSA has done with KeyData)?
Will it undertake not to direct the FSCS to make blanket assumptions of misselling on matters such as Arch cru and to pay compensation willy-nilly without allowing the normal complaints process to run its proper course?
Will it undertake not to instruct the FSCS to engage firms of lawyers to issue to IFA firms unsubstantiated demands for payment without being in possession of proper evidence of bad sales practices?
Will it admit that the MAS – launched without either a consultation or any cost benefit analysis – has been a hugely costly and ineffective white elephant and scrap it?
Will it discard the FSA’s patently mendacious claim to being a body independent of the Government?
Will it – as a body supposedly in favour of accountability – actively participate in the creation of an independent regulatory oversight committee to the will of which it will be statutorily obliged to submit?
Will individuals within the FCA be named, shamed and sanctioned when found to have failed in their duties?
Will it publish for all to see and to debate in open forum just how much of Hector Sants’ estimated £50m the transition from FSA to FCA actually ends up costing in practice?
Will it take the side of the industry in lobbying the Government on issues such as its failure to honour the Conservative party’s pre-election manifesto pledge to put right all the damage done to the pensions framework by successive governments over the past 25 years and finally to enact true simplification measures to restore some scrap of public confidence in long term saving for retirement?
Will the FCA provide answers to any of these questions? Or is this undertaking to address “all past failings” of the FSA just a bit of window dressing to kid us that the FCA is actually going to be something better, more cost-effective and more accountable than an FSA Part II?
If it does not, then Mr Wheatley can hardly be surprised if the FCA is viewed in very much the same light as its reviled and discredited predecessor.