FCA boss 'encouraged' by progress

FCA boss 'encouraged' by progress
Nikhil Rathi, chief executive at the Financial Conduct Authority

The Financial Conduct Authority boss has said he is “feeling encouraged” by the progress the regulator is making around its transformation programme.

Speaking at a Treasury Committee session on the work of the FCA today (December 8), chief executive Nikhil Rathi was questioned about how the transformation programme was going.

This was after the FCA announced this week its executive director of transformation, Megan Butler, is stepping down from her role and leaving the regulator after six years.

The regulator is undergoing a transformation programme to become more data-led and performance-oriented. 

Rathi said: “I'm feeling encouraged by the progress that we're making. I sent a letter to the committee earlier in the week, which set out where we had got to. You will have [also] seen various announcements coming through across the different work streams for transformation.

“For example, we are looking for the first time to have consistent strategies across consumer markets which bring in all divisions across the FCA in an integrated way with concrete metrics.”

Rathi said one specific example of its transformation was when the FCA began testing its consumer investment strategy and put out specific targets to reduce the level of cash savings by consumers holding £10,000 in cash when they don't need to by 20 per cent over five years. 

Another was targets around reducing the FSCS levy. 

“That's one example of getting performance oriented,” he said. 

On consumer engagement, he said the FCA plans to extend that very significantly, including partnering with the Financial Ombudsman Service and Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and it is also trying to be more experimental. 

“You may have seen us on Instagram, on Tik Tok, trying to communicate with a different audience in a different way about some of the risks that we are facing,” he added.

“We were also intensifying our work at the gateway with an early oversight programme for new firms as well so there's a range of initiatives we're undertaking.”

He said the City watchdog has also made a wide ranging change to its reward and grading structure. 

A year on

In September, Rathi briefed the board on a number of topical issues including the resourcing risks across the organisation and the potential impact of this on business delivery.

When asked about these risks today, Rathi said: “Whenever I'm asked this question, I always flag that underpinning it is a good news story in that we have a very hot jobs market.”

He explained that when assessing where the world was a year ago and where it was assumed the economy was heading, it was a very different outlook.

“But actually, the labour market is very vibrant,” he said. “There's a lot of movement, particularly in sectors like data and technology where there's a huge demand for skills right across the economy and right across the country. And we're no different to any other significant employer in having to manage those challenges.”