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The biggest risk facing financial services is the FSA

Having read about the key risks identified by the FSA as now facing the financial services sector, most life companies and practitioners might reasonably place at the top of the list the FSA itself.

Hindsight testing of sales processes continues apace (mortgage-related endowments), the never-ending torrent of regulatory initiatives shows no sign of abating, professional indemnity premiums seem set to stay cripplingly high for the foreseeable future with excesses to match, and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme is increasingly overburdened with complaints about hypothetical future endowment shortfalls 10 or more years in the future.

Levies are going up left right and centre, not least those to the FSCS because more and more companies are going to the wall and pension commission is being forced down in the face of increasing complexity, uncertainty and danger to advisers. The list goes on and on.

Yet somehow or other, the FSA sees its own policies as playing no part in any of this.

The FSA warns gravely that compliance standards may decline during this period of transition. Dear oh dear.If the FSA’s vision was not so afflicted by the massive log in its own eye, it might just see that the industry is so thoroughly punchdrunk with regulations and compliance that it is only barely still on its feet and an increasing portion of it is already flat on its back gasping for air.

It is not paranoia when they are really out to get you. The most galling thing, though, is that we are paying them to do it to us.

Julian Stevens WDS,Bristol


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