Caroline Rainbird is a chief executive trying to balance two sometimes opposing but equally important goals.
On the one hand, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme’s new boss is determined to compensate the vulnerable victims of scams in a fair and timely manner to ensure they can get back on track and rebuild their confidence in the financial services world.
But on the other, Ms Rainbird is acutely aware of the impact of the levy on advisers and the advice market, from the money financial advisers stump up to fund the scheme, to the overall sense of ‘the good guys always pay’ that is felt throughout the industry.
Ms Rainbird says: “We’re aware of the challenges and emotion around this subject and we know that without industry funding, we would not be able to pay compensation.
“I don’t have a magic wand to fix the past and we need to make sure we can pay compensation fairly.
“We need to get consumers back on track and restore their trust and confidence in the financial services industry, enabling them to go back into the market.”
So behind the scenes, there is a compensation scheme fighting a number of battles on both sides.
As a body within the regulatory framework, the FSCS is working with a number of industry partners – from the Financial Conduct Authority to the Money and Pensions Service – to stamp out the number of companies phoenixing in the industry.
This is part of the scheme’s ‘prevent’ pillar – the mission the FSCS has taken on to try to limit the levy on advisers within their sphere of influence and trying to reduce bad outcomes.
But the FSCS puts time, effort and money into its consumer-facing side, too.
Ms Rainbird says: “Anybody who comes to us and contacts us has inevitably had something distressing happen to them.
“They’re confused, they’re angry, they’re upset about their loss. It’s often a really awful set of circumstances.”
One of the ways the FSCS has improved the customer’s experience with the scheme is by reducing the end-to-end customer journey.
Ms Rainbird says: “Some cases are very complicated. We need to assess them, make sure we have the right amount of evidence and then help people.
“We’ve already reduced the end-to-end journey from 180 days to 120 and we’re committed to bringing that down even further.”
Speaking of arguably the most high-profile case to involve the FSCS since her appointment, Ms Rainbird defended the lengthy wait for some consumers who had invested in London Capital & Finance’s mini-bonds.
She says the LCF case was “very relevant and poignant” but also “very complicated”, adding it was a challenging balancing act to do the right thing for both the consumer and the levy payer.