I read with some incredulity of Howard Davies' claim that the reason the FSA was unable to intervene in the Equitable Life debacle was that the board simply would not cooperate.
I am sympathetic to the poisoned chalice Mr Davies has taken on (albeit, that we are all contributing to an exceedingly handsome level of remuneration for his trouble).
However, trying to make out that the board of Equitable Life just would not play ball and that the FSA was unable to make them do so is nothing more than an unconvincing exercise in damage limitation.
The fact is that despite charging the industry a fortune for its existence, the PIA failed in the execution of its duties, which are supposed to be driven by consumer protection.
The interests of consumers were not protected by the PIA, very probably because so much of its (huge) resources were taken up with hindsight pension reviews, hindsight endowment reviews, hindsight AVC reviews, with-profits reviews, polarisation reviews, use of past performance in advertising reviews and so on.
With all that going on it is hardly surprising that little in the way of resources was left for actual regulation. But then, as we all know, the PIA has always been rather less about actual regulation than about the creation of endless regulations.
As we have seen on countless past occasions, if an IFA firm does not play ball with the regulator, out come the hatchets and sledgehammers.
All manner of sanctions are very swiftly and mercilessly imposed, using that much-favoured catch-all “failing to deal with the regulator in an open and cooperative manner”.
Or have I overlooked some drastic pruning of the regulator's powers which renders them impotent in the face of a regulated body simply stonewalling and refusing to cooperate? I don't think so.
Come on Mr Davies – just admit the PIA failed massively and that by the time you took over it was too late to stop the ship going down.
Be honest please.
WDS Independent Financial Advisers, Kingswood, Bristol