Practitioner panel calls for pensions focus from FCA

Practitioner panel calls for pensions focus from FCA

The Financial Conduct Authority needs to improve its regulation of the long-term savings and pensions sector, according to its Practitioner Panel.

The panel’s annual survey asked the industry how the City watchdog is performing, finding that in almost every area, satisfaction scores are lowest for long-term savings and pensions.

The report published by the panel said: “Respondents in this sector are less satisfied overall, and are particularly likely to feel that the information they have to provide for consumers is excessive.

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“We recommend that the FCA should focus particularly on this sector when considering regulatory policy, such as the outcomes from the Smarter Consumer Communications work.”

Overall, the survey found a majority of firms are reasonably satisfied and believe the FCA is an effective regulator.

The overall effectiveness score remained the same as last year, with firms scoring the FCA at 6.7 out of 10.

The panel also listed three areas it wanted the FCA to improve on: the knowledge of its staff and supervisors, more transparent regulation and more forward-looking regulation.

António Simões, chairman of the FCA Practitioner Panel, explained last year’s report highlighted that the FCA faced substantial challenges to its operations and strategy, something compounded this year by changes to its leadership and senior management.

“To have maintained broadly similar scores for effectiveness and satisfaction in this environment is encouraging,” he said.

“The panel has discussed the key areas for improvement with the FCA board and executive with a view to working together on the issues identified to help our common objective of rebuilding trust in the industry.”

Yesterday, the FCA’s new chief executive Andrew Bailey told the Treasury select committee tackling retirement savings was his top priority.

He said the landscape was “pretty complicated” and “somewhat legacy”, adding that there is a need to make long-term savings and pensions clearer and more transparent.

Addressing the results of the practitioner panel survey, Mr Bailey said: “As a regulator that emphasises proportionality, it is encouraging that firms feel that our interactions with them strike the right balance.

“The survey also identifies where improvements can be made to achieve our aim of making financial markets work well so that consumers get a fair deal. We will consider the specific findings and look forward to working with the panel on this over the next year.”

The panel’s report follows a similar annual review from the Financial Services Complaints Commissioner this week, which outlined areas of improvement for the FCA, criticising “an unwillingness to face up to and admit shortcomings” and delays in dealing with “awkward” cases.

Adviser view

Dennis Hall, chief executive of London-based Yellowtail Financial Planning, said: “I think the FCA is aware that too much information is sent to the consumer so I don’t think this comes as news to us or them.

“There is far too much information, most of which is hardly relevant to the end consumer and they won’t even bother reading it.”