Regulation  

FCA in firing line as MPs wade in on Woodford return

FCA in firing line as MPs wade in on Woodford return

MPs have waded in on the planned return of Neil Woodford with urgent calls for the Financial Conduct Authority to provide a timeline for its investigation into the debacle. 

Mel Stride, the chairman of the Treasury Committee, yesterday called on the City watchdog to set out when its investigation into the suspension of the Woodford Equity Income fund would conclude. 

The comments are the latest chapter in a series of public statements made by both regulators and campaigners this week since Woodford revealed plans to make a comeback last weekend. 

Speaking with The Sunday Telegraph the fund manager said he intended to return as chief investment officer at his new firm, Woodford Capital Management Partners. 

Stride said: "The previous Treasury Committee was vocal in its concerns regarding the failure of the Woodford fund and the impact on its investors.

"As the FCA’s investigation still continues over 18 months after the fund was suspended, the reports of the new fund may understandably be of concern to investors who previously lost out."

Woodford's plans for a comeback have sent shockwaves through the industry and earlier this week the FCA made a rare public statement warning it would first assess the "fitness of management" before authorising his new firm.

The FCA confirmed it was in contact with regulators in Jersey, and said WCM Partners would need to apply for appropriate permissions before commencing any regulated activity in the UK.

Less than 24 hours later the Jersey Financial Services Commission took aim at Woodford warning it was "disappointed" he announced plans to partially launch his new firm from the island without first submitting an application for authorisation. 

Jersey's financial regulator said it would be "normal practice" when speaking publicly about a business launch to "make it clear that it is subject to regulatory approval".

Woodford has said his business will operate out of Buckinghamshire and Jersey but for now would not involve the creation of a new fund or managing money on behalf of UK advised clients. 

Speaking with The Sunday Telegraph, Woodford apologised for the outcome of the fund but largely blamed the actions of its administrator Link. 

His resurface has prompted calls for an independent investigation into the collapse of the fund, amid claims investors are "losing faith" in the regulator's supervision of the industry. 

In a letter to the Treasury Committee this week campaigners Gina and Alan Miller said it was "high time" an independent investigation also probed the FCA's part in the Woodford scandal.

Responding to the calls, Stride said MPs would "consider the letter fully" once parliament returned next week. 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com