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Life offices look for regulatory clarity

Insurers and asset management firms will be seeking strong assurances from the Conservatives that the Bank of England will be bolstered to regulate sectors it has previously not dealt with.

Under Tory plans to axe the FSA, regulation of banks, building societies and insurers would pass to the BoE.

Cicero Consulting director Iain Anderson says companies will demand to know how the bank will carry out the prudential regulation of sectors that it has not traditionally been involved with.

Anderson says: “This concern is coming through very strongly. There will be significant lobbying to the Conservatives over the next few months for details on how the bank will regulate activities that are not banking.

“Major insurers and asset management firms also want to know who would sit on the board of the Bank of England and what interaction there would be between the bank and the Treasury.”

An Association of British Insurers spokesman says that further clarification is needed in the regulatory plans of both the Conservatives and the Government.

He says: “Whatever change takes place, we need a regulatory system that recognises that insurers are not banks and takes into account the very different nature of their business models.

Royal London head of corporate affairs Gareth Evans says there would need to be an “inflow of expertise” in the insurance and asset management fields at the bank.

He says: “Prudential regulation is highly technical and it is not clear that there is the appropriate expertise in these sectors at the Bank of England.”

An Aviva spokeswoman says: “Any regulatory body will have to recognise the difference between banks and insurance companies and that their fundamentally different business models mean different regulatory regimes are required.”

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