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Can the FCA avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach?

by Danielle Levy on Feb 06, 2013 at 10:17

Can the FCA avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach?

With just a few months to go until the new regulatory regime under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) comes into force, wealth management executives are urging the new guard to actively engage with the sector to avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

This follows the announcement that Sheila Nicoll, director of policy at the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and a driving force behind the retail distribution review (RDR), will leave the regulator in April before it transitions to the FCA.

Her move marks the latest departure from the ‘old guard’ of the FSA, after head of investment policy Peter Smith, managing director Margaret Cole, and chief executive Hector Sants left last year.

Although Nicoll had helped steer the new conduct strategy at the FCA, senior figures in wealth management appear unperturbed by the exodus, suggesting that new blood in the leadership team under incoming chief Martin Wheatley should prove positive.

‘I think having some new people involved is a good thing and Martin Wheatley strikes me as a very capable person and someone who understands what is going on within the sales process,’ said Jonathan Fry, private wealth director at jonathanfry plc. ‘Some of the leading figures like Adair Turner and Hector Sants were undoubtedly capable people, but how much experience did they have in the retail environment?’

In contrast, he highlights the roles Wheatley (pictured) has held at the London Stock Exchange, which he hopes should improve the regulator’s connection with practitioners.

His sentiments are echoed by Charlotte Black, director of corporate affairs at Brewin Dolphin, who said: ‘The brain drain from regulation is a constant worry and has surely been a frustration for the FSA. However, we have met some impressive new members of the executive team recently and are very hopeful that these fresh eyes will see things more clearly.’

Can the new guard drive change?

Even if industry figures are pleased with the prospect of new blood, can new leadership really drive change?

This is perhaps most relevant in terms of their approach to regulating retail financial services and the relationship they build with a wealth management sector that arguably feels increasingly disillusioned and overladen with regulation.

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