After a while the April Fool’s jokes became indistinguishable from the real news, which is a rather telling statement to make about the state of the world’s media. One April 1st Bank Holiday story which was not a joke, was that the FSA died and rose again to form the FCA. Whilst we may have celebrated Easter over the weekend, many may not have realised that the UK financial services industry was given a fresh start by a new regulator. Well, I say fresh start, its the same people, working at the same office and I imagine that you can spot the difference in the logo (and a new website).
I for one am hopeful that the FCA will be a force for good, with an ability to stop malpractice in a timely manner so that it does not become contagious and repeating previous experience of the better firms and advisers having to bail out the cowboys (various FSCS/FOS levies running into multiples of £millions). Regulation is not an easy task and it is very easy to have a swipe at the previous incumbents for failing to stop the credit crunch and a vast array of mis-selling. However, we all know that hindsight is very easy to have. What I would hope for from the new FCA is a sense that advice will be clear and not burden investors and clients with mountains of paper. I also hope that the FCA provide good guidance on best practice, rather than choosing to never to endorse anything as “good” and merely punish bad practice. This has approach has left many advisers falling short of good standards, which doesn’t (or didn’t) help consumers.
So whilst I have my reservations and am realistic, I would like to wish the FCA every success in partnering with advisers and investors to create a better, stronger and more transparent financial services here in the UK.
Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA