FCA promises to be transparent and consistent

FCA promises to be transparent and consistent

A handbook produced for the Financial Conduct Authority’s press office sets out how the regulator plans to communicate with the industry and public after last year’s closed life book debacle.

As an independent regulator, the FCA stated it is important that audiences trust their decisions, and have full confidence the decisions taken are properly based on the information available at the time.

The regulator’s press team is told “every effort” must be made to ensure communications are not misrepresentations and do not mislead the FCA’s “diverse audiences, and where appropriate, clearly recognise caveats in the information that we use and/or provide.”

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Following on from the closed life book scandal, the paper also sets out that all statements must now be developed in collaboration with the relevant business areas, with the support of their senior management.

At the end of last year, the FCA published the report of Clifford Chance partner Simon Davis on handling of the closed life book press briefing.

The report was highly critical, stating that the regulator handled it in a manner that was “high risk, poorly supervised and inadequately controlled”.

The inquiry examined the events leading up to and following the publication of an article stating the FCA planned to review certain long-term life assurance products on on the Telegraph’s website.

Mr Davis’ report revealed quotes in the article were attributed to former FCA director of supervision Clive Adamson, who stepped down earlier this year, without his knowledge.

Following the article’s publication, billions of pounds were wiped from listed insurance companies, with the panic only subsiding when the FCA eventually published a clarification more than six hours after markets opened.

In the 21-page handbook published today (8 September), the FCA states it should be “transparent” and the regulated community and public should be able to see the FCA at work, to access its policy and services, and to assess its activities.

The handbook states: “The FCA seeks to explain its policies and decisions, and to inform the public of its regulatory priorities.

“This information is necessary for the regulated industry and financial consumers – whether directly or via representative groups – to be kept aware of the rules by which they are bound or protected, and to be able to participate actively and meaningfully in the development of these rules.

“At times, confidentiality requirements will mean that we cannot be completely open about our actions or concerns, but we should perform our role as transparently as possible.

“In parallel to being transparent, we must make information accessible so that the regulated industry and financial consumers may be aware of, understand, act on and inform the development and implementation of the FCA’s policies and initiatives.

“Our aim is to ensure that information is accessible to all of our audiences. We will employ a variety of channels and formats when communicating, to cater for their different needs and preferences.