Regulation  

Farewell to ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ approach

Farewell to ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ approach

Martin Wheatley’s leadership of the FCA has been marked by a proactive approach, changes to the financial services industry and moments of intense controversy.

Since 1 April 2013, when the FCA formally came into operation, the regulator has focused on developments including the implementation of mortgage market review changes from 26 April 2014 and the pension industry’s response to this year’s reforms.

The FCA’s remit has expanded, including on 1 April 2014 when it took over regulation of consumer credit from the Office of Fair Trading.

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Mr Wheatley promised to put consumers first and this approach has been marked by high-profile industry interventions

In a widely reported speech made to an Association of British Insurers conference in September 2012, he promised to take a “shoot first and ask questions later” approach.

And in July 2013, in a speech marking 100 days since the formal incorporation of the FCA, Mr Wheatley said: “Like Icarus, financial services flew too close to the sun in the boom years. They pivoted too far towards commercial interests and too far away from consumer interests.”

At the beginning of 2013 the retail distribution review came into effect, changing the advice landscape, and though this had been in the pipeline since 2006, long before Mr Wheatley came onto the scene, his presence at the regulator’s helm during this time means he will forever be associated with it – for better or worse.

Similarly, the FCA has issued significant fines.

According to its own figures, in 2014 the regulator issued fines of £1.47bn in 2014, up from £474m in 2013.

At other points the FCA has attracted controversy.

In March 2014, following an FCA briefing, a national newspaper published an article claiming the regulator’s 2014/15 business plan would include an inquiry into 30m policies sold by insurance companies between the 1970s and 2000.

On 28 March 2014, following the article’s publication, several insurance companies saw their share prices drop substantially.

This resulted in an inquiry into the briefing, the 226-page Davis Review and Mr Wheatley not receiving a bonus for 2013/14.

Adviser view

Nick Bamford, executive director for Surrey-based Informed Choice, said: “Advisers are more professional following the RDR but I am not sure that the consumer is better protected following the introduction of the FCA.”