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Adamson: Press briefing ‘didn’t work out as planned’

Speaking at the Building Societies Annual Conference in Manchester on 8 May, the FCA’s head of supervision admitted his interview with a national newspaper in March, in which he allegedly divulged market-sensitive information about the closed fund investigation, had “not worked out as envisaged”.

He said: “We accept that we are not perfect and we must do more to show we are a predictable, consistent and measured regulator that is on the side of the consumer, but also working with the industry when possible to solve problems.”

Mr Adamson assured delegates that the Clifford Chance inquiry into the affair, which jolted the share prices of major insurers and forced the FCA to issue a public clarification about its objectives, would be independent, adding: “The executive board is taking it extremely seriously.”

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During the conference, Mr Adamson also said the downfall of the Co-operative Bank has provided a “wake-up call” for mutuals, who must re-examine their governance.

He added that the failings in governance that led to a £1.5bn black hole in the bank’s balance sheet should give other mutuals pause for thought.

He said: “Mutuals should guard against the assumption that ethical principles will always ensure good conduct performance.”

Adviser view

Simon Mansell, managing director of Worcestershire-based Temple Bar, said: “The reaction to Mr Adamson’s comments was partly rooted in fears about a possibly retrospective approach, imprinted on the minds of advisers following similar reviews of pension mis-selling and endowment shortfalls. Many of us assumed that advisers would be tasked with reviewing products and offering alternative options, with all the liability that could entail.”