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No age of austerity at the FSA

The new age of austerity appears to have yet to reach the Canary Wharf offices of the FSA judging by comments made this week by managing director Jon Pain.

Whilst Government departments are struggling to slash £6bn of costs and the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws scrutinises all recently signed Government contracts, the FSA is suggesting that it needs to increase resources.

Pain told delegates at a City and Financial Intensive Supervision Conference this week that its intensive supervision regime required more resource, declaring that: “To continue to deliver and fully embed our intensive approach, we need to continue to increase our overall resource and ensure that the training provided enables supervision to deliver our agenda.”

The FSA appears to think that because it is funded by the industry and not the taxpayer it is immune to the current cost saving measures being enacted across the public sector.

Perhaps it is emboldened by the likelihood that the coalition Government will retain the regulator and believes that, politically, it is fine to slap the financial services industry with higher costs.

These would be careless assumptions to make. Many of the firms regulated by the FSA have struggled to stay in business throughout the economic crisis and are likely to continue to struggle as the new Government’s tough measures to reduce the deficit hit home.

For IFAs, you can of course add the huge amount of time and money that is being spent changing their business models and increasing their qualifications ahead of the retail distribution review and the grossly unfair Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy.

Against this background it is surely wrong for the FSA to talk about increasing its resources and thus the levies that will be paid by the financial services industry.

If the FSA is going to continue with its current highly aggressive strategy in the way it supervises the industry -through increased use of section 166s, banning orders or blocking reauthorisations – its supervisory staff take on more power and responsibility. This means better qualified and better paid staff are required.

But if this shift in focus was made by a Government department, particularly at this time, it would more than likely require a realignment of resources with cuts made in other areas.

You have to question whether this same financial discipline applies to the FSA when it knows it can tap up the industry for extra sums rather than have to make difficult cut-backs elsewhere or battle with the Treasury for extra funding.

The National Audit Office has taken on responsibility for auditing the FSA, beginning this financial year. Will it be able to keep the regulator in line?


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There are 16 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. No, the fsa is a law unto itself . Not even 2 governments will be able to control it.
    No one cares about costs to the industry except the industry. The regulator will continue to squeeze us for more & more of our hard earned cash. A lot of IFAs are small businesses. Most governments like to give the impression they are falling over themselves to help small businesses thrive. They should be more honest and add a caveat “unless you are an ifa small business” I wrote to Michael Moore, lib dem mp, re the keydata levy scandal.
    He took 3 months to reply. His reply arriving on the 5th May-how convenient.The reply was of a standard nature with no real understanding of how this affects small ifa business. The majority of this country did not vote lib dem but we have had their policies which includes retaining a failed regulator, thrust upon us, while the people we did vote for are happy to comply with their new bed fellowsall in the name of new politics! what a joke nothing will improve for IFAs, if anything things will get a lot worse.
    The only way we will get anywhere is to organise a peaceful uprising. We need to converge on canary wharf with our banners demanding a stop to this nonsense.Anyone care to join in?

  2. I have to agree that the FSA seem divorced from financial reality. For the industry they regulate and seemingly dont understand that’s not good!

    May I suggest that they use the resources they have effectively instead of a bureaucratic approach that dumbs down, tries to standarise everyone yet ignores problems and thus rewards failure . Up until now they have too busy building careers and empires for themselves instead of regulating effectively. Hence FSCS and bank complaints as an example, credit crunch, etc.

    If they need more funds its because they are squandering the ones they have.

    Increased fees for FCSC, PI, FSA, T&C, RDR etc are killing the advice industry just when the public need it most. You would think the FSA has a self destruct agenda with its approach.

  3. Evan Owen - IFA Defence Union (for now) 19th May 2010 at 2:28 pm

    All may not be as it seems.

    If I had the time and money we could remodel the regulator, the political will is there.

  4. Austerity at the FSA !!! they do not even know the meaning of the word.Fat salaries for them and screw the little guy is all they know.Come on Vince get stuck in to this money guzzling quango.

  5. Patrick Schan 19th May 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Well said by Paul McMillan. Also agree with anonymous at 1:41 that MPs just pay lip service to us, because they don’t care about a few IFA votes and they don’t understand the industry. But if we don’t create a fuss we have no chance at all.
    Anyone fancy picketing Canary Wharf en masse with a Batman costume?

  6. Anthony Fallon 19th May 2010 at 2:39 pm

    The FSA released to the press today “The Financial Services Authority (FSA) says it has found the biggest ever “suckers” list of potential targets for share fraudsters. ”

    and their favourite “suckers list” is IFAs – The FSA are like the mafia “inviting” all IFAs to join their boiler room scam (or else the big bully FSA will drop on you from a very large height)

    Mr Pain’s announcement proves beyond any doubt that he and the rest of the bunch of ******* at the FSA are not of this world .

    The FSA are a complete and utter rip off – regulating financial services in the UK has failed but I forgot the FSA is not there to regulate us – it’s there so people like Mr Pain can enjoy over the top salaries with excellent pension benefits together with a nice little scam to extract other monies such a bonuses (for what ?) and luxury hotel bookings etc.

    Maybe one day somebody in Government will take a really big stick and knock the FSA bully down more than just a peg or two. I won’t hold my breath.

  7. Like Evan (nice to see some of us come out of us are not too afraid of the FSA and that is not a criticism of the anons, but of the FSA), I would rather see the FSA amputated than executed and perhaps even be given an extra set of ears rather than the multiple mouths they seem to have which are used for both talking S**T and to enable eating at a trough…
    There are some good staff at the FSA and some of theri ideas are laudable (the chaps who did our TCF assessment were fair and reasonable and LISTENED), but were still working to a flawed agenda….

  8. Robert Donaldson 19th May 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Can anyone tell me one major problem that the FSA have managed the industry to avoid without hindsight.

    Always behind the game line and wishing to throw more money at it. Who does that remind you of.

  9. I agree with all the comments above. But the problem is that without us all having a single voice to air these grievances or the ability to stand together against the FSA then we will ultimately never have any real teeth and they will continue to walk all over us and charge us for the privilege!

  10. Stop talking in riddles Evan
    did big hector mess with your head when you went to visit him?

  11. Simon Mansell 19th May 2010 at 4:34 pm

    The FSA is a regulatory Cancer, an unelected dictatorship whose malignant growth will result in the terminal decline and ultimate death of its victim the financial services industry. It is a quasi government that raises taxes and levies them against those it governs but like any dictatorship we do not have a right to vote and remove them.

  12. Steven Farrall (Adviser Alliance) 19th May 2010 at 4:41 pm

    “…The FSA appears to think that because it is funded by the industry and not the taxpayer…”

    This is a common delusion. The FSA is funded by the taxpayer. It’s just that they don’t know they are funding it. As I keep posting, economies consist of people and things. Companies and Governments (also Quangos) are just convenient admin fictions by which we organise our lives. Therefore it is not us IFA’s or the FS industry that pays the FSA ludicrous imprests, it is the taxpayer.

    The solution to this is to pay for the FSA by an explicit product levy on all users of FS products, including bank accounts. Once the taxpayer sees just how much he is being ripped off by this failed quango he’ll stop paying in pretty short order. And don’t tell me that this is impractical. If it was why do they think a Tobin tax would work?

    The FSA is not the ‘independent’ regulator of FS, it is the unaccountable regulator of FS.

  13. Evan Owen - IFA Defence Union (for now) 19th May 2010 at 5:17 pm

    To: Anonymous | 19 May 2010 4:16 pm

    It was IFAs who messed with my head, not Hector, nowadays I sit back and watch you all bitch while the regulator picks you off, like “fish in a barrel”, remember that famous quote from a regulator?

    As far as Anonymous | 19 May 2010 3:41 pm is concerned he/she must surely by now be fully aware that IFAs are incapable of expressing anything with a single voice, I should know.

    My take on the FSA is that there are a lot of people, yes a lot, there who are doing their best with the tools available. Sadly I am firmly of the belief that regulation is doomed to failure, time and again, because there are too many closed minds, too many people who have been ‘moulded’ by events, too many empire builders, too many powerful vested interests.

    Today I asked the FSA “Will the banks spend more to keep their problems under wraps than the FSA can ever afford to uncover the issues which concern us all?”

    What would your answer be? The big institutions might not be as fleet of foot as a small IFA but by goodness do they have the money (their customers’) to throw at maintaining the status quo.

    The regulator will get bigger and bigger but all its latest and greatest procedures will never do what it said on the tin, mark my words Mr Pain.

    So, you are on here having a go at me while hiding behind your Mr Anonymouse badge, what useful things do you do? Do you support AIFA? or Adviser Alliance? Anybody? Or is your favourite pastime sniping from a distance?

    P S

  14. Richard Russell 19th May 2010 at 6:51 pm

    No doubt about it, they are a clever self perpetuating oligarchy. I suppose the senior executives will feel the extra supervision will make a pay rise quite justified!
    “Never mind the peasants lets line our pockets!”
    To think they were spawned by a socialist!

  15. Start with this question: For what, or for whom is this “intensive supervision” intended?

    There are to be costs, but for whom are any benefits intended?

    Is the “intensive supervision” aimed at a small one man IFA offering advice on say a mortgage protection policy?

    Or is it more likely to be aimed at larger multi-faceted players operating in complex global markets?

    We hear constantly from politicians, economists and regulators of the need to address what are called the “too big to fail” entities. Are they the problem?

    We hear very little, if anything, from those same politicians, economists and regulators on the impact which increasing regulatory demands make on the small IFA, demands which increasingly render them “too small to succeed”. However, given the problem, could IFAs be part of the solution?

    Perhaps we need a more important question: To what extent does the average person in the UK require the services of the larger multi-faceted players operating in complex global markets?

    Perhaps the answer is sometimes, at some stage. but is it always, every day, week in week out? Do the basic day to day needs of an average person, needs such as a bank account, a mortgage, some life assurance, a pension require that they must be served by those with global ambitions on an every day basis?

    Very shortly in the budget currently being prepared by George Osborne, and in the spending review due later this year, the average person in the UK will become only too well aware of the costs of those with such global ambitions. Costs by way of job losses, by way of reduced public services, by way of either inflation or higher interest rates, or both – it will not be pretty.

    But will they also be as aware of the clear failures in our regulatory systems, the systems that were intended to safeguard us all from the future we now face? Will they be as aware that our regulatory systems only apparent answer is to increase their costs – but with no greater guarantee, indeed with no guarantee whatsoever of greater success?

    Perhaps, just perhaps, rather than increase the costs (exponentially) to – belatedly – address the real size of the problem, an alternative might be to reduce the size of the problem, to find the ways in which the needs and requirements of the average person in the UK can be offered without having those met by entities which are “too big to fail”, with costs when they collapse which are too heavy to bear, and with the then nearly assured request from our regulators for even more money.

    Should IFAs should give some thought to finding such alternatives, alternatives which better address the needs and requirements of the average person?

    Or should we just leave it to the politicians, economists, and regulators?

  16. Look who’s talking about ‘bitching’. Pot calling the kettle black I think. Evan Owen is not even an IFA and we are supposed to listen to his drivel. Yes you did get messed in the head with Hector Bullsh*t and it shows. Your so called IFADU never did anything for IFAs apart from interfere and then when you had a good man at the helm you couldn’t keep him. Sycophant comes to mind, why don’t you just bang your Welsh Drums away from the rest of the cpountry and leave us in peace?

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