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Financial Conduct Authority Starts Work

The start of the new financial year has seen a major change in the regulation of the financial sector, with the Financial Services Authority being wound down and replaced by three new bodies: the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

The two new regulators will take on the responsibilities held by their predecessor, but will have greater legal powers to target those who fall foul. Whereas the FSA oversaw the whole of the financial industry, responsibilities will be shared between the new bodies, with the FCA overseeing the conduct of banks and other financial institutions, while the FPC and PRA will sit within the Bank of England, working to ensure banks are financially stable. The changes are the result of an overhaul of the system set up by the Labour government in 1997

The FCA has promised changes in the way it deals with consumer finance issues, such as reclaiming PPI. The previous regulator, the FSA, received criticism over its handling of the PPI scandal, as well as other recent financial wrongdoings, and it is hoped the FCA will give consumers greater protection against something similar happening again by being more aware of the banks’ actions and responding sooner. The body will also oversee financial services companies, including those offering pay-day loans.

The FCA’s legal powers will include the ability to ban financial products it feels are “inherently flawed” or are “in serious danger of being sold to the wrong customers”. That will mean a product will not be sold during the time it takes to make a permanent decision on its suitability. The regulator will also look to have more direct contact with banking bosses, rather than their lawyers, so problems can be identified and remedied more quickly.

Regarding a possible deadline for PPI claims, the new regulator appears to have a similar view to its predecessor, in that it will only agree if it is of benefit to everyone involved, particularly the consumer.

The FCA’s chairman, Martin Wheatley says: “We've said we're happy to listen to a proposal if a proposal can meet the banks' needs of bringing a date forward, but meet consumers' needs of making sure that they know about the potential claim.”

He also says the body will look to have more engagement which consumer groups like Which? And Money Saving Expert.

The FCA will have 2,800 staff and a budget of £432m a year.






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