Financial Conduct Authority
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FSA publishes Annual Report for 2007/08

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) yesterday published its Annual Report for the year 2007/08.

The report details how the FSA has delivered outcomes for both firms and consumers throughout the year under the three headings which cover all of the FSA's work.

These are:

  • to promote efficient, orderly and fair financial markets, both wholesale and retail;
  • to help the retail consumer for financial services achieve a fair deal; and
  • to improve its business capability and effectiveness, so as to make the FSA easier to do business with.

In his introductory statement, Callum McCarthy, chairman of the FSA, says:

"The last year has presented great difficulties for the financial services industry, its customers and for the FSA. A long overdue and much-needed adjustment of the pricing of risk materialised abruptly, with severe and continuing consequences.

"We should all draw lessons from what has been a sobering experience. Banks need to improve their risk management, stress testing and disclosure practices. Investors need to recognise that buying assets whose risk they do not understand on the basis of a credit rating is profoundly unwise. Rating agencies themselves – which perform an essential task – need to change their practices to bring back confidence in ratings. And those responsible for financial regulation and central banks – around the world – need to examine their own policies and practices – something to which the FSA has demonstrated its commitment.”

Callum McCarthy goes on to say that the FSA has been determined to not only contain the damage caused by the past year’s difficulties but also to make the changes needed to improve regulatory policies and our own performance.

Drawing on these points in his report, Hector Sants, chief executive of the FSA, says:

"I am determined that the FSA will not be defined by the Northern Rock incident, but rather by our response to it. We have demonstrated our willingness to examine ourselves critically and to learn lessons from our mistakes – a quality we believe is central to giving the financial services industry and consumers confidence in the FSA. Like any thoughtful organisation, we cannot and do not claim infallibility.

"It is, however, important to recognise that, from August onwards, I believe the FSA has performed extremely well with regard to its supervisory responsibilities and the manner in which we have intensified our engagement with individual banks. We have ensured that institutions have immediately and effectively reacted to the changed market conditions. In my view, this undoubtedly demonstrates the FSA’s ability to swiftly adapt to changing market conditions. Our success of the last nine months provides an excellent model for the future.”

Looking ahead, Callum McCarthy identifies the introduction of legislation to reform aspects of bank regulation which will have major and longstanding influence over the UK’s financial services sector as one of the most important changes to be made in the last decade.

“But I think it essential that, whatever the decisions on particular aspects of these proposals, the four principles which were so clearly set out in 1997 when the present UK framework was established remain the basis of policy. Clear accountability, transparency, no duplication and regular information exchange remain principles to which we should adhere. We must not confuse changes to practices which can and should be improved with changes to principles which are sound and valuable, and where change would be retrograde.”

Finally, as Callum McCarthy is due to stand down as chairman in September, he says:

"This is the last time I will report as FSA chairman. I do not want the events of the last year to obscure what the FSA has done and continues to do with much success. It is the nature of regulation that failures are very public, and successes often private. But my work over the last nearly five years has convinced me of the continuing value not only of the principles which I have discussed above, but also of the great benefit of a single and coherent approach to financial services. Separation of supervision of banks, securities firms and insurance companies in any form would be a retrograde step which would cost the UK dearly. And – perhaps more important – my conversations with practitioners, here and in the other capital market centres of the world, make clear that they share this view.

"A feature of the UK regime is that the FSA is able, in a way which is rare and may be unprecedented among financial regulators, to show that it treats firms and individuals we authorise and regulate quite without regard to the nationality of those who own or manage the firms. I have no doubt of the benefits this has brought. It is a policy I am confident will be continued."

Appendices to the report, also published today on the FSA website, provide further statistical information on the FSA's work during the year. This includes:

  • Of the 100 targets the FSA set itself for 2007/08, 85 were delivered on schedule. Of the other 15, 11 were re-planned but still delivered in the 2007/08 financial year and 4 are still to be delivered.
  • The number of approved firms increased from 28,281 to 28,325.
  • The number of approved persons increased from 167,276 to 172,077.
  • The Regulatory Decisions Committee (RDC) considered 20 new cases as opposed to 17 last year.
  • The FSA's enforcement division closed 262 investigations during the year resulting in 286 outcomes. Of these, 153 concluded with the use of powers (such as prohibition, financial penalties and variations of permissions) and 133 without the use of powers. 13 of these 133 outcomes were private warnings.
  • The FSA levied £4.45 million in financial penalties during the year compared to £14.66 million last year. This fall reflects the fact that this year we did not bring to final resolution any market conduct cases. Financial penalty levels do not by themselves give an accurate picture of the range of enforcement actions we take. For example we prohibited 30 individuals from carrying out regulated activities compared to ten the year before.

Notes for editors

  1. The FSA Annual Report 2007/08 covers the FSA's regulation of the financial services sector from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008 under the Financial Services and Markets Act (the Act). It is presented to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and a copy has been placed today in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament.
  2. The Annual Report is available on the FSA website. Further information, including statistics and responses to the annual reports of the Financial Services Practitioner Panel, the Financial Services Consumer Panel, the Smaller Businesses Practitioner Panel and Complaints Commissioner will also be published on the FSA website shortly.
  3. As required by the Act, the Report includes an estimate by the FSA of how far it has met its four statutory objectives and had regard during the year to the principles of good regulation set out in section 2(3) of the Act. The Annual Report also contains, as required by the Act, the report by the FSA’s non-executive committee on the discharge of its functions.
  4. The report also includes details of the remuneration of FSA Board members.
  5. Callum McCarthy's total remuneration was £480,553 (2006/07: £433,565), made up of salary of £396,000 (£360,000) and benefits totalling £84,553 (£73,565).
  6. Hector Sants, chief executive, was paid a total of £661,948. This comprised salary of £417,179, a performance-related bonus of £114,000 and other benefits totalling £130,769.
  7. Full details of the directors' remuneration appear on page 64 of the Report.
  8. The FSA regulates the financial services industry and has four objectives under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000: maintaining market confidence; promoting public understanding of the financial system; securing the appropriate degree of protection for consumers; and fighting financial crime.
  9. The FSA aims to promote efficient, orderly and fair markets, help retail consumers achieve a fair deal and improve its business capability and effectiveness.

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