FCA panels tell regulator to stop ‘chasing headlines’

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The FCA should base its communications strategy on evidence and not “courting headlines”, according to its independent panels.

The regulator this week published its response to the annual reports of its four panels: consumer, practitioner, smaller business and markets.

It says all four panels raised its communication strategy and the findings of the Davis review into its botched media briefing on a review of closed-book policies last year.

The FCA says: “The practitioner panel and the markets panel both called for an approach that is based on fact and evidence and does not court headlines to seek coverage.

“The markets panel also mentioned applying an appropriate level of control over the approval process for external publications.”

The regulator says some panels also asked it to consider the tone and content of its communications on enforcement action to avoid “undermining trust in firms and the industry”.

The FCA says it has changed its communication strategy in light of the Davis review.

In addition, the consumer panel raised concerns about whether consumers can access financial advice in light of the pension reforms and the risk they may be pushed towards non-advised channels.

The consumer panel also flagged a lack of transparency on mortgage fees and commission.

The FCA says: “The panel highlighted that its data has shown a big post-MMR shift to intermediated mortgage sales. The panel raised concerns that it is often not clear to consumers what proportion of fees is paid back to the intermediary as commission.

“The panel believes it would be more helpful to consumers if lenders included all fees in a total costs figure that was presented in the advertised costs, and ensured non-product fees reflected their actual costs.”