For the first time in over 30 years of regulation, last week saw MPs debate a vote of no confidence in the FCA. The result was meaningless. The fact it happened will resound around Westminster for months and is part of something much bigger.
The debate was particularly dangerous for Chancellor George Osborne. It was the public demonstration of an increasing backbench disgust of the Treasury’s kowtowing to big interests. And it is not just regulation but the likes of Google and other sweetheart deals too.
Public anger is growing not only in the UK but also across the Atlantic. The unlikely rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is a direct result of the public believing their leaders have sold out to the big players.
The FCA is attempting to deliver two contrary objectives. The official one is to protect consumers. However, the hidden objective is to act as the Government’s financial services undertaker by burying embarrassing issues, many of which derive from Treasury decisions.
It is clear powerful players are influencing the Treasury to get their way. If the banks are granted a soft touch, the danger to advisers is immense. This means regulators will need to attack someone – and advisers will be right in the firing line.
Osborne will parade new FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey as the solution. He is not. Only proper accountability will deliver proper regulation. Advisers cannot remain silent. Otherwise the powerful will out-manoeuvre them.
Garry Heath is director general of Libertatem