Regulatory experts have urged the FCA to continue the strategy of working with advisers set in train by chairman John Griffith-Jones as he prepares to leave the regulator.
Griffith-Jones will step down at the end of his five-year term in March next year.
Threesixty compliance director Russell Facer says, while Griffith-Jones’ expenses bill of £40,000 last year may be what some in the industry will remember him for, it was the result of a praiseworthy effort to engage with the industry.
Facer says: “John has done a lot of being out and about, talking to people on the ground. That ability to listen is an important thing that needs to carry on.
“From my talks with the regulator, a lot of conversations relate to communications. If that’s a sign of things to come, it should be a positive.”
Under Griffth-Jones’ tenure, the FCA made public its guidelines for dealing with the media. It also set up a series of cross-country events to speak with advisers, called Live and Local, where advisers were able to attend lunch with Griffith-Jones.
Last December, the regulator said it was developing a new strategy for engaging with advisers.
Tisa head of industry policy liaison Peter Smith says: “Under Griffith-Jones’ stewardship, the City watchdog pledged to make itself more transparent – which, to be fair, it has, and it is becoming much more collaborative.”
Smith notes Griffith-Jones committed to only a five-year term at the head of the FCA, and “no previous chair of the City regulator had served more than a single term”.
He adds: “I do not believe we will see significant change to the current FCA business plan or roadmap following his departure or the recent election result [although] this will add a search for new oversight of the financial services industry to a Treasury workload already stretched by Brexit.”
Speaking at a Wealth Management Association conference in 2015, Griffith-Jones acknowledged a “huge burden” of regulation but said wealth management firms would face less regulation in the long term if they provided valued and trusted service.
The chairman has also got behind the principle of a “polluter pays” funding model for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, but the details of this are yet to be fleshed out.
Griffith-Jones also discussed the regulatory boundary between advice and guidance, saying “the distinction between advice and guidance, once reasonably clear, has become much greyer with the advent of platforms and the potential of robo-advice”.
TCC advisory director Phil Deeks, a former FCA technical specialist, says Griffith-Jones’ focus on culture should continue under his successor.
Deeks says: “The final transition by the FCA (started but not yet accomplished) is his focus on culture, whereby the firm understands and then develops and delivers the right thing for customers.”