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MPs hit out at FSA over information requests to firms

Martin Wheatley
Martin Wheatley: Grilled by the banking commission

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards has hit out at the FSA over the volume of information requests it sends to firms and the strict deadlines it imposes.

FSA chairman Lord Turner and FCA chief executive designate Martin Wheatley were grilled by MPs last week.

Cross-bench peer Lord Andrew Turnbull said: “The deadlines for data requests are getting shorter, firms are being asked for a very specific form which does not relate to how the firm collects its data and sometimes the purpose for the data being sought is not clear. Are you looking at how best to collect data and is there some check to ask whether you need this data and in this particular form?”

PCBS chair Andrew Tyrie hit out at a voluntary financial inclusion questionnaire sent to firms asking for data about staff on issues such as race, marital status and sexual orientation.

Turner defended the regulator, claiming data collection is crucial to effective regulation through core reporting requirements and ad hoc requests for thematic reviews, enforcement action or a new supervisory programme.

Wheatley added: “We will try to be proportionate and if we send out information requests we do not do it lightly as we know there is a cost to the industry in doing so.”

Bloomsbury Financial Planning partner Jason Butler says: “There is always room to reduce bureaucracy and forms but the reality is that regulated business is not for the faint-hearted.”

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  1. Julian Stevens 7th March 2013 at 9:32 am

    How is data about staff on issues such as race, marital status and sexual orientation crucial or even relevant to effective regulation?

    Many have questioned how much of the data required under the GABRIEL returns is remotely necessary for effective regulation. The regulator can’t possibly have the resources to analyse anything more than a tiny proportion of it. Given the burden that the submission of all this data imposes on those forced to supply it, where’s the proportionality of which Mr Wheatley speaks so glibly? What Cost:Benefit Analysis has ever been undertaken? Where’s the Benefit:Cost Analysis?

    For the regulator to make effective use of such data, surely there needs to be LESS of it not ever more? What does the regulator do with it all? Most of it just goes into Room 101.

    Look at the FSA’s track record of failing to act on information gathered or submitted to it from a range of sources on issues such as KeyData (remember that 2007 Arrow visit?), ArchCru, ARM, PPI mis-selling, reckless business expansion strategies on the part of several of the banks, LIBOR manipulation, Interest Rate Swap loans ~ the list goes on and on.

    Yet instead of, as it should, pledging to use and act more effectively on all the data already coming its way, the regulator instead declares that it wants EVEN MORE data. Where’s the logic or the rationale or the justification? Many would say there is none and all the TSC can do is frown and wag a disapproving forefinger.

    Meanwhile, the regulator continues to be allowed to ignore the requirements of the Statutory Code of Practice for Regulators (which, being Statute, is supposed to be Primary Legislation), ploughing ahead regardless with its own unaccountable agendas, and nothing changes. It’s a dreadful state of affairs.

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