RegulationMay 8 2013

FSA ramped up use of section 166 powers in final year

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ByDonia O’Loughlin

The Financial Services Authority significantly increased the use of its powers to force firms to appoint skilled persons to conduct business reviews in its final year, issuing 113 review orders in the 12 months between April 2012 and March 2013.

This is a significant increase from the 95 orders that had been issued in the 2010/2011 financial year, which prompted a parliamentary question to be raised by conservative MP Mark Field over the costs the reviews place on the industry.

Mr Field called called for a rethink of the powers as data showed that the cost to firms of conducting the reports that year totalled more than £32m. In 2006/2007 firms had been issued with just 18 such orders at a cost of just £3.8m.

Banks make up the bulk of the orders issued in 2012/2013, with 52. Insurance companies were the next most common targets having been hit with 17 review orders, while investment advisory firms were asked to produce reports on 11 occasions

In February, the FSA consulted on proposed changes to its handbook that would allow firms to appoint its own skilled person and then charge the cost back to a firm.

The consultation paper, published 8 February, proposed updating the handbook to bring it in line with planned Financial Conduct Authority policy regarding disciplinary powers, skilled persons reports, own-initiative powers and cancelling approval of primary information providers.

Included in the changes are tweaks to reflect the incoming regulators’ ability to directly appoint a skilled person to conduct an independent review of regulatory matters. Previously these individuals would be appointed by the firm.

The FSA argued this will help eliminate potential conflict of interest arising from firms appointing the people who review its compliance with regulation.