Speaking at Deloitte's event today (February 22), called a Countdown to Implementation of the Consumer Duty, Mills said the expression ‘just eat the frog’ is about tackling the task first that you most want to avoid.
The concept has been hijacked in modern times by management gurus who use it to describe how individuals should prioritise the most difficult but important tasks, especially those tasks that have the most impact.
It originates from the American writer Mark Twain who said: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
“Many of you have eaten that frog. Or at least devoured a leg,” Mills said.
“We recognise that the consumer duty is significant, and for some requires a significant implementation to get right.”
Mills said while many firms have made excellent progress: “A small number of firms may have seen the task as too big and adopted an avoidance tactic in the hope that it will all go away.
“On behalf of your industry peers who have made the effort, we can confirm that the consumer duty will not go away.
We at the FCA have not been great at explaining what is in it for firms and UK Plc.
“Their hard work has not been wasted. And you still have time to deliver. But you must act now. The deadline of July 31 will not be moved. “
The regulator was given the mandate to introduce the duty through Parliament when the Financial Services Act 2021 came into force and is designed to set higher standards to reduce and prevent serious harm.
He argued that although the work on the consumer duty predates the cost-of-living squeeze, the current economic climate highlights the need for those high standards and protections.
“For what this looks like in practice, we can look at the plight of homeowners who are struggling with rising mortgage costs. Or to savers who often wait longer for the corresponding rise in their interest rates,” he said.
“We would remind firms that the duty needs to deliver good outcomes for customers in financial difficulty and that retail customers need to be offered fair value.”
Mills said the FCA understands why there has been initial resistance.
“Perhaps one of the reasons for that reluctance is this: We at the FCA have not been great at explaining what is in it for firms and UK Plc,” he said.