FCA to focus on thematic reviews over firm visits

John Griffith-Jones, chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said the new watchdog has become aware of the shortcomings of individual firm visits.

During a roundtable session at the Association of British Insurers biennial conference, Mr Griffith-Jones insisted the industry would soon realise his organisation works very differently from predecessor the Financial Services Authority.

As part of its conduct focus, Mr Griffth-Jones said the FCA recognised if the regulator turned up for individual firm visits they just learnt about processes at certain firms rather than widespread practices hitting the consumer in the pocket.

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Speaking at the ABI conference this morning (9 July), Mr Griffith-Jones said: “We are, the FCA, a new body - or are we? Some cynics think it is just a letter change. This is a new body with a new way of doing things.

“We are now only conduct focused. The change that has taken place within the organisation, because prudence has left, means there is no excuse for not focussing on conduct.”

Because of having to fight fires in the last few years, Mr Griffith-Jones admitted conduct had no longer been first in the FSA’s eyes.

He said: “We are determined to be a forward looking, preventative organisation. A regulator who sits back in his chair waiting for a puddle to appear on the floor and then arrive with a mop and a fine is not cost effective.

“We talk a lot internally about a radar system. Listening to what is going on in the outside world.

“We are not likely to always spot what is going on but by listening to the consumer we will be able to quickly spot what is going on better.

“We feel better able to understand what is going on and therefore what is going wrong earlier in the process.

“If you go and see one firm at a time you get the answer that things are going well. If you look across the industry you can quickly urge better practice.”