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The rotten state of regulation

I agree with David Birkmyre that the current split/zero fiasco culpability appears at least in part to lie with the FSA, who approved what turns out to have been quite inappropriate promotional literature.

Perhaps the task was assigned to an incompetent junior (and I wonder just how many of those the FSA employ) whose understanding of this class of investment was even poorer than those now in the firing line for having sold them.

Has that individual or the head of the department been censured or disciplined? Somehow, I doubt it. An FSA spokesman declined to comment.

The trouble, though, with forcing the FSA to share any compensation bill is that nobody pays for anything done by the FSA except us poor saps out here.

Take, for example, the Equitable Life fiasco. The PIA should have seen that one coming years before, yet this massive regulatory failure has cost nobody employed by the PIA a single penny.

The only way in which sanctions against the incompetence of the regulator could ever hit home would be if their executives&#39 remuneration packages were to be reduced and if their carte blanche licence to ratchet up their levies whenever they please was to be withdrawn. Yet, in the wake of the Equitable Life affair, all that happened was that Howard Davies, with hardly dazzling humility, agreed to take a trifling reduction to his bonus on top of his already enviably hefty remuneration package.

Bonus for what? Doing such a magnificent job of reforming and improving the state of financial services regulation in the UK? It seems to me that those in high places in regulation have reached that enviable position in which success is rewarded and failure is compensated.

Something is rotten and corrupt in the state of this nation and nowhere more so than with regulation. Someone, please persuade me it isn&#39t so.

And finally here is my nomination for the most enviable job in financial services – director of accounting at the FSA. Consider:

•At the end of the year, if the books balance, pay all the directors a handsome bonus.

•If they show a surplus, pay all the directors an even bigger bonus.

•If there is a deficit, pay all the directors a bonus anyway and raise next year&#39s industry levies above the rate of inflation.

These scenarios, by the way, are in addition to your already handsome salary and supporting package. Whichever way it goes, you&#39re in a win-win situation free of anything remotely approaching commercial pressure and your peers will forever love you.

Best of all, no one outside Canary Wharf will even know your name.

Julian Stevens

WDS Independent Financial Advisers, Bristol


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