FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley says the regulator is focusing its attention on wider markets rather than “picking off firms one by one”.
In a speech at the ICI Global trading and market structure conference today, Wheatley said the regulator’s announcements around asset management in recent months are a “bellwether” of FCA direction for 2014 and beyond.
He said: “If you are looking for a useful bellwether of FCA direction, this is it: a more probing analysis of culture and ethics versus rules. A more assertive focus on wider markets as opposed to picking off individual firms one by one.
“A greater inclination to step in early, rather than wait for problems to scale up and become less manageable.”
He said improving standards in the asset management industry is “not something for the UK to fear”.
Wheatley said: “As other markets cleanse their own operations – as we are seeing in Singapore, Hong Kong, the US, Australia and so on – it becomes increasingly important to do the same domestically.
“In other words, this is not something for the UK to fear. It is something for us to lead.”
He added 2014 will be “an important period of consolidation”.
Wheatley said: “It will be less ‘exciting’ maybe than previous years – but also a platform to bed in regulatory change and move things forward.
“The next 12 months should be increasingly focused on transitioning towards next steps. The delivery of standards that will allow us to begin to turn the page on a very difficult chapter in financial history.”
He said the industry faces two key challenges in this: achieving cultural transition and technical transition.
He said cultural transition means “publicly demonstrating there is clear blue water between the past and future”, while technical transition means “making sure we get the nuts and bolts of international regulatory reform right so markets remain deep and liquid”.