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FCA defends £100k away day spend

The FCA has defended spending almost £100,000 on five board away days over the past five years, including the decision to hold its November meeting at a five-star luxury hotel.

At the FCA’s annual public meeting in London today, the board was questioned about its away day spend over the last five years, and delegates raised particular concerns about the FCA holding away days at The Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire. The hotel has hosted the England football team, musicians and was the venue for the Bilderberg Group meeting of the world’s top political and business leaders in June 2013.

FCA chairman John Griffith-Jones said: “We have used The Grove hotel for the past two years because in November there are not many people using it and we get a significant discount. I absolutely believe in the value of taking the board out of the office for two days. You can have more discursive discussions than in the office, as I’m sure many of the businesses we regulate will agree.

“I’m completely confident that the expenditure incurred was of a workman like nature.”

A freedom of information request by Money Marketing revealed in February that the regulator spent £97,975 between 2009 and 2013 on annual two-day meetings at off-site locations for its board.

The FCA spent £17,123 on holding its November board meeting at The Grove.



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There are 27 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. “We have used The Grove hotel for the past two years because in November there are not many people using it and we get a significant discount.”

    But it’s still more expensive than perfectly adequate alternatives I should imagine.

  2. Here John; why don’t you fly the board out to the Maldives for two weeks ? if you go out of school term time, you get some discounts !!! think of the value in that !!

    Hold on my local Aston Martin dealer is offering some deals best I ditch my (much more cost effective Corsa) existing car and go get one !!!

    John please stop justifying you ridiculous spending like my 20 year old daughter, just because you get a discount it doesn’t mean you can afford to waste my clients money, it should all be paid back and now !!!

    “I’m completely confident that the expenditure incurred was of a workman like nature.”

    John you are a moron !!

  3. What’s wrong with Premier Inn, good enough for Lenny Henry -“a great night’s sleep guaranteed”

  4. He might as well just have said F— you, we’re the FCA and we can do whatever we want.

  5. Summed up with 3 words – Scandalous, Unaccountable & Arrogant! Enough said!

  6. I can get discount down my local golf club and reps are keen to get 4 hours with me but they are not allowed to pay. £100,000 what a joke when they have prestigious offices to hold meetings

  7. correlationstreet 17th July 2014 at 12:10 pm

    How does one incur expenditure in a workman like manner? Presumably using a shovel to load the cash into the coffers of luxury hotel groups.

  8. “Discursive discussions”. Just had to look up the definition of ‘discursive’. Not a word I use often.
    Cambridge Online Dictionary –
    Discursive (adjective) – ‘talking about or dealing with subjects that are only slightly connected with the main subject for longer than necessary’
    Ahhh – now I get it.

  9. I have no objection to the FCA operating in good quality Hotels – if they have nowhere else to conduct their meetings – or they are scared about being overheard – or intimidated or interrupted. Even the Police use quality hotels to conduct matters in Private – to protect them and their evidence against corruption and intimidation. Might I suggest the county Constitutional Club St Albans – on the main line form St Pancras International – a Private Male Only Club. This is a Club under Limited Company status – who accept women as guests ( used by STEP ) or as ” associate members ” , – but not as “Members “. It is a place where the Met conduct many Private meetings ? At £ 100 per day cheaper than the Grove – (or premier Inn – who do not usually have meeting rooms – and a return ticket to London, by rail costs some £ 20-00 ( £ 28-00 if purchased before 8:30 am. Given the poor practices at the FCA one would doubt if they rise anytime before 11:00 am ? Food in a local Italian would be some £ 20-00 per head or an Indian at £ 17-00 per head . . . . . . Of course I fully understand that the FCA – would if it followed their own advice – would require accurate record keeping – and a tight rein on costs . . .if they were so inclined.

  10. How out of touch with reality can they be?

    Then again if you have a captive audience and your can dictate your fees to your audience then you are on to a winner. Lets not forget that there is absolutely no competition, so we don’t have any alternative. This is the downside of the FCA/FSA disbanding all of the old Self Regulatory Organisations.

    Come to think of it, if there is no competition, would this be classed as a monopoly? just a thought for the MMC.

  11. It is when I hear things like this I realise that I have become an anarchist living in a parallel universe.

    This is farcical although completely understandable justification – frankly he would do in his position wouldn’t he – he doesn’t pay does he given the fact that IT does not operate under any commercial considerations whatsoever – if he/it did then that would be a different story.

    Well done Mr Chairman – how to defend the indefensible ! Can we burn it down now please !

  12. Here we go again!!

    What planet are these people on?

    He states “I absolutely believe in the value of taking the board out of the office for two days”

    What the hell for?. Are your offices so unpalatable? You have a board room or meeting room don’t you? And there are some perfectly good caterers who will put on a lunch at reasonable cost for the poor souls, if that’s really needed.

    These Gravy Train riding Trough Feeders need to be censured, and that can only come from Parliament, and especially the TSC. Do your stuff please!

  13. All the meeting rooms at Canary Wharf must have been booked those two days in November!

    £17,123 for two nights, it will be interesting to see how many people attended the meetings and were put up in the hotel.

  14. I don’t disagree that it can be more productive to hold meetings outside of the office, however, why do they need to stay overnight, and even if they do, what’s wrong with a cheaper alternative, there are plenty or 3 or 4 star hotels offering meeting rooms and conference facilities with even bigger discounts on their cheaper than 5 star prices! As someone before me has said, it’s scandalous and arrogant, I’ll add wasteful to that.

  15. Julian Stevens 17th July 2014 at 1:10 pm

    The bottom line is that they could use an equally suitable venue at vastly lower costs without having had to slum it. Again, the Code: Our expectation is that as regulators integrate the Code’s standards into their regulatory culture and processes, they will become more efficient and effective in their work. They will be able to use their resources in a way that gets the most value out of the effort that they make.

    No sign of any of that having been taken on board at Canary Wharf.

    What’s APFA’s view (assuming it actually has one)?

  16. I’m told I cannot accept any corporate hospitality, I have to run my business efficiently, I have to make sure my clients gain VALUE for their money and that I should lead by example.

    Whilst I do accept the £100k is over a 5 year period, there are times you need to speak in private. That said you can turn the phones off and close the door, with instructions NOT to be disturbed.

    I am sure the evening drinks where paid for out of their own pockets?

    We are all sick and fed up of being told what we have to do, what we cannot receive, whilst the senior regulators (not the hard working staff) seem to believe they do not have to lead by example, just do as they say.

    I found it really offensive when a statement on receiving inducements made by a senior FCA person included the statement “yes I have put on a lot of weight, its all these meetings I have to go to “.

  17. Maybe we should put in our terms of business the reason we charge x amount per hour is because through our fees the FCA must have away days paid by you via us.Sorry Mr client we charge so much. Wonder what the FCA would say to that. Transparency all round

  18. Having just received our annual FCA fee request which is simply an invoice with no breakdown of how the fee is proportioned to marketing, admin, insurance etc, it would seem fair that firms should be able to ask the FCA how their fee is being spent. This would perhaps unearth further details of spending which as many of the above suggest is inappropriate and unjustified. It would be interesting to know the FCA’s thoughts on this and whether as customers of the FCA we have the right to request a breakdown of our fees as other professionals such as lawyers, accountants etc must do to their customers.

  19. William McEwan 17th July 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Another sign of a not fit for purpose organisation.
    They can’t honestly think that long term they will get away with it.
    A life company can’t take me for a round of golf but they can go and stay in a 5* hotel.
    I wonder if they have read Animal Farm they do seem more equal than the industry they are supposed to be regulating.

  20. Does this mean that its conducive to my state of mind and thinking if a consortium of lenders took myself and my colleagues away for an evening’s entertainment and that’s such an incentive is now OK?

    I admit, I’m being a little sarcastic here. In the grand scheme of things, £100k over 5 years is pittance in a budget of almost £500m but then again so is the £50 or so a lender might spend on a night out, or go karting, or the races…. when compared to the £40m of lending my company places each year with lenders across the whole market – sorry, comprehensive market.

    Overall we all know there are far bigger things that the FCA (and MAS) waste money on. Lets concentrate on getting those bills down first.

  21. “…..I’m sure many of the businesses we regulate will agree.”

    Hang on, this isn’t a “business”, this is the FCA – a government body. Their staff are public servants. A “business” can spend money where it wants and if it can afford to treat staff to away days and nights in lavish hotels, then that is down to the business owners or shareholders or both.

    The question is whether it is right that a government body with it’s own lavish offices, should spend this kind of money taking staff out of their office at OUR expense.

    The overriding opinion here, is clearly NO, not at our expense. If the FCA choose to take staff out for meetings, lunches, dinners, and over night stays in hotels, then staff should be expected to pay for this themselves. This should not be within the realms of the FCA running costs.

    Pay for these events yourself oh people of the FCA. If it were true expense, it could be claimed back through their own tax returns. But it’s not a business expense is it, it’s a jolly !!

  22. Of Course it is Monopoly – and when they pass go they collect more money – they DO NOT GO TO JAIL . . . and the incompetence – and lack of proper record keeping – still it is tax payers money . . .and Captain Cameron intends to spend billions on Cross Rail, then HS2 – whilst perking up his pension – and increasing the great divide between the Have’s and the Have NOTS !

  23. You can smell the arrogance !!

  24. Would appear the FCA are just like any other Government body. No idea of the real world and are quite happy to throw other peoples money away. They try and justify it by talking bollocks. Discursive :- talking or writing about many different things in a way that is not highly organized: Sums it up.

  25. Looks like the FCA are already booked in to the Grove in November this year – first week fully booked. and as for a ‘significant’ discount in November – basic room on a Monday night in November £240 – basic room on a Monday in August £270!!! Not that i should think even the cleaner at the FCA offices would stoop so low as to stay in the BASIC room!

    As plenty have already said – if you dont pay for it, why would you worry about the cost!

  26. You cannot call Going to the Grove – out of touch ! Stupid self centred selfish – yes ! but all advisers are aware of the stupidity of the FCA – they have suffered under the most extreme idiots for decades. Useless . ..incompetent . . .unable to catch a cold . . . .and now they have introduced Suitable advice ?
    The Grove Hotel has ” entertained ” The England Football Squad . . .and so are well used to dealing with FAILURES – in many different areas. The lack of any controls in the FCA – their willingness to SPEND SPEND, SPEND – whilst their Governor Mr Wheatley – Fails, Fails FAILS ! and insults – insults – insults is how the FCA demonstrate ” they are working WITH Advisers . . .for CUSTOMER OUTCOMES ? So how does spending taxpayers money on DAYS OUT ( red letter days – from dragons ) – is this Team Building Exercise ? Were they shunting around on PLANKS of WOOD holing ropes to work together – or were they just SHIRKING OFF – playing in the ” Bubbles ” in the jaquzzi – or chatting up potential dates in the swimming pool – or watching the tight leotard sin the gym ( and that was just the men ? ) – or were they selecting expensive wine – fine dining from the many countries of the world available . . .at The Grove ? Perhaps someone form within could identify what they were doing or Why they found it necessary – to go to the Grove – or is it just another INDUCEMENT paid for b insurance companies – to UNDEMINE IFA’s – and Court the FCA ?
    So much for the ETHICS of the FCA ?

  27. “FCA chairman John Griffith-Jones said: “We have used The Grove hotel for the past two years because in November there are not many people using it and we get a significant discount. I absolutely believe in the value of taking the board out of the office for two days. You can have more discursive discussions than in the office, as I’m sure many of the businesses we regulate will agree.”

    Mr Griffith-Jones, I think you will find that very few if any of the firms you regulate will agree with you. In fact old son, most if not all will find the arrogance of your statement quite breathtaking. Your organisation is wasting a small fortune on this sort of thing, money which we have paid to you in fees which we have EARNED by bloody hard work which is made harder by all the hoops your organisation make us jump through.

    Your organisation’s wasteful use of money is further highlighted by the way you went about the roadshows to which we were all “invited” a few months ago. I went to a very swish country club/stately home/golf club place which no doubt wasn’t cheap to hire (a village hall would have sufficed for a Powerpoint presentation for goodness sake!), I had a two hour drive each way in order to attend, you had a professional media company providing the sound and vision equipment with a man at the back operating some sort of console which was almost certainly costing a vast amount of money every day (what’s wrong with a laptop and a projector like the rest of us use?), and I’ll bet my shirt that the presenters didn’t stay in Travelodges as they toured the country. Our follow up meeting was held at Leicester City FC’s stadium (another 4 hour round trip!), several rooms being in use, again a village hall somewhere would have done the job wouldn’t it? I believe I read an article a couple of years ago highlighting that the FSA (don’t try telling me they are not the same) had spent £100,000 on tea, coffee and biscuits. WHAT??

    The FCA and you, Mr Chairman, are a disgrace! How dare you! If I could meet you I would shake you warmly by the throat and tell you what I REALLY think of you!

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