Compliance and the Stupidity Paradox

Panacea comment for Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

13 Feb 2017

Compliance and the Stupidity Paradox

Compliance is an important part of the whole world of financial services and indeed many other worlds of business and governments.

In the world of financial services regulatory compliance “describes the goal that organisations aspire to achieve in their efforts to ensure that they are aware of and take steps to comply with relevant laws, policies, and regulations.

The rules are well defined, as we all know, in the FCA handbook. For the avoidance of any doubt, the regulator has even provided an introductory guide.

Regulated firms must follow FCA rules. The rules it would seem are clear (to the author/s) but the interpretation and purpose of them at times makes little sense.

A book, published in 2016 by the City University of London called the ‘Stupidity Paradox’ investigated common sense in decision-making.

Professor André Spicer’s research included input from management consultancies, banks, engineering firms, pharmaceutical companies, universities and schools.

The ‘outcomes’ of investigations into the ‘Stupidity Paradox’ revealed many examples of when common sense decisions are simply ignored.

Examples included: 

  • “Executives who more interested in impressive power point shows than systematic analysis.
  • Companies ran leadership development initiatives which would not be out of place in a new age commune.
  • Technology firms that were more interested in keeping a positive tone than addressing real problems.
  • Marketing executives who were obsessed with branding when all that counted was the price.
  • Corporations that would throw millions into ‘change exercises’ and then, when they failed, do exactly the same thing again and again

I just love the last one.

Professor Spicer’s concludes by asking, “Why could such organisations, employing so many people with high IQs and impressive qualifications do so many stupid things”.

I am reminded of the definition of a camel. It being a horse designed by committee.

I have worked since the early 80’s in the industry thought six different regulators- NASDIM, LAUTRO, FIMBRA, PIA, FSA and FCA. The average lifespan of a regulatory body being some six years.

With the exception of the FSA transition, rulebooks, even staffing, for the predecessor bodies have been subject to rewrite and new hire, not a roll over. The FCA transition was a re-skin.

What does ring loud and clear is that regulators do not, in the most part, seem to learn from past mistakes. Not only are ‘learnings missing, they more often than not refuse to accept responsibility or blame for past mistakes.

The FCA is now approaching four years old. So, in theory only another two to three years to go until yet another metamorphosis occurs. In that time it has seen two chief executives and a significant turnover of very senior staff embarking on a journey working for the firms they used to regulate.

Regulation is an industry. The thousands of pages in the FCA manual require firms in turn to employ thousands of people with high IQs and impressive qualifications to interpret the rules and ensure that their business implements them to the letter.

FCA research from 2015 found that 88% of large firms and 44% of small firms increased the amount of time and money they spent on compliance and the cost of regulation, according to New City Agenda is some  £1.2 billion.

But, and here is the big BUT. The finer interpretation of some rules would suggest that rather like in the Italian Highway Code, red lights are a suggestion, some rules make no sense in their implication.

We would love to know what examples you have of the Stupidity Paradox in financial services regulation today?

The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work (Profile Books), by Mats Alvesson and André Spicer.

André Spicer is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Cass Business School, City University London.

Mats Alvesson is Professor of Business Administration at Lund University and a Visiting Professor at Cass Business School.

Regulation, will we ever get it right?

mansleepingI had the great fortune to sell my IFA practice 10 years ago, a driver for taking the plunge was that having worked under the ‘control’ of 4 different regulatory regimes- NASDIM, FIMBRA, PIA and FSA, the prospect of never seeing a balance of common sense and fairness painted a very bleak future.

The jury may still be out in that regard, but I think we are at the stage where the Judge may be directing the Jury that a majority decision would suffice.

I am not normally driven to negativity, cynisim maybe, and while I do see an absolute need to have regulation of financial services, it seems to me that wherever there is regulation, chaos and extreme cost is the outcome with blame being laid at the door of the weakest.

Some key facts to digest:

  • Regulation is poorly thought out in just about every industry
  • It is reactionary rather than pro-active
  • It is not always retrospective, although in financial services it seems to be an exception
  • Nobody ever listens to the voice of experience
  • Nobody ever learns from past failings
  • Nobody in regulation admits failure
  • Nobody in regulation takes the blame
  • Everyone in regulation benefits from ‘learnings’ and earnings
  • Regulatory failure is rewarded not punished
  • Regulation is an industry, it is hermaphroditic, capable of self procreation and without something to bash it would have no purpose. As Keith Richards (Rolling Stone not PFS) once said “In the business of crime there’s two people involved, and that’s the criminal and the cops. It’s in both their interests to keep crime a business, otherwise they’re both out of a job.”

 

Regulation should not be pursued at any cost and in such a way, applied like a tattoo only to be regretted when the effect of the alcoholic induced stupor that fuelled its creation has gone away. The NHS is an example of regulation on ‘acid’.

Has the consumer benefited? Many may say no. Access to financial advice for the masses has been exterminated. Even if it was freely available, there is insufficient capacity to service any more than around 10% of the population based on the recent Heath Report and the FAMR will not correct that imbalance as was intended.

In 2009 the great and the good expressed concerns about the impact of RDR and how it will disenfranchise consumers, here but just a few to prove my “Nobody ever listens to the voice of experience” comment

  • Otto Thoresen – CEO ABI, then of Aegon: “The RDR is only helping wealthy customers”
  • AXA April 2009: “We will lobby the FSA to make sure the RDR does not mean less are able to access advice”
  • Institute of Financial Services: “RDR will impair financial advice before improving it”
  • Alasdair Buchanan Scottish Life November 2009: “Sales advice is a real cop out and extremely confusing to investors”
  • Stephen Gay – Aviva June 2009: “The regulator has failed to consider the danger of adviser charging limiting access to advice for those on lower incomes”
  • Lord Lipsey: “Consumers in the middle (not high net worth or money guidance fodder) to be sold products by banks under the contradiction that is sales advice”
  • Walter Merricks former Chief Ombudsman: “I think it would be unwise to count on the assumption that complaints from the retail investment world are suddenly going to go down as a result (of the RDR)”
  • Deutsch Bank report August 2009: “There has been industry talk of 30% or even 50% of IFAs exiting the industry post 2012, which is not impossible”
  • Paul Selly HBOS: “Bancassurers set to benefit”
  • Richard Howells Director Zurich Life June 2009: “The big question mark is still around what benefit it will have for the ultimate consumer. I am still not convinced that all of these changes, when you sit down with a consumer and explain them, actually give rise to a consumer benefit that I can really hang my hat on.”
  • Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert June 2009: “There’s a worrying possibility that the FSA is about to kill off independent financial advice in the UK for all but the wealthy. I do hope I’m wrong. I’m not convinced most people will want to pay for advice. The commission route has the advantage that you don’t pay a fee each and every time you want information; you can go without the worry of laying out cash. What I find most galling though is that bank-based advisers – those primarily responsible for PPI miss-selling, endowment miss-selling, investment miss-selling and generally poor advice all round are still to be allowed to be remunerated based on the number of sales.”
  • Janet Walford OBE, Editor Money Management Sept 2009: “I am not paranoid enough to believe that the FSA has a hidden agenda to do away with small IFAs, but the law of unintended consequences may well mean that this will be the result. This is especially the case when set alongside the myriad of other proposals that are costing some £430 million to set up, with ongoing fees of £40 million pa thereafter, a mind boggling amount of cash.
  • Peter Hamilton barrister, Source: Money Management Oct 2009, Scrapping the FSA by Marie Jennings MBE: “The Financial Services and Markets Act does not permit the FSA to cancel an authorisation simply because the FSA has changed its views on what the appropriate qualifications should be…. It is one thing to impose new rules for new entrants to the IFA profession, it is quite another thing to disqualify someone who is already qualified.”
  • David Hazelton of Tax Incentivised Savings Association (TISA) 30/10/09: The RDR could be detrimental to consumers both in terms of higher product charges and an increase in the cost of advice, warns the Tax Incentivised Savings Association (TISA). Implementation costs for the RDR are being “seriously underestimated” and product charges will consequently have to be raised.
  • Robert Kerr, head of retail distribution development at Scottish Widows says: The RDR could have the unintended consequence of “disenfranchising” the majority of consumers from financial advice. “Our key concern is the RDR proposals will act to drive advice upmarket, with financial advice becoming the preserve of the wealthy leaving mass-market consumers un-served,”
  • Nigel Waterson MP when Shadow pensions minister: “While no-one can object to raising the standards of training and competence, should an emphasis on exams take precedence over on-the-job training and experience?

Fines are at record highs for the same bad behaviour from the same suspects, regulatory costs are at an all time high, huge FSCS levies continue to hit ‘small businesses’ when least expected, politicians have no control of those they leglislate to regulate, those employed in financial services regulation have increased, those employed in the financial services sector they regulate have decreased.

The problem with regulation in 2016 is that you cannot regulate for lack of common sense, yet that is what we keep trying to do. Caveat emptor has gone.

We have lost the use of that in-built gene of common sense when looking at constructing and applying regulation.. Its loss went along with map reading skills, crossing the road after looking both ways, not talking to strangers, proficient cycling, spelling ability, simple mental arithmetic skills and very many more.

The world has truly gone mad, or at least it has in UKplc’s regulation section.

We have a society that is now readily and speedily offended on somebody else part for just about everything that simply should not matter as much as it does.

We have borders that are not fit for purpose, we have an NHS in meltdown because the service is now aspiration and expectation based, rather than focusing on the basics of it’s original 1948 founding principles (comprehensiveness, within available resources) and a country controlled not by UK based elected politicians but by unelected civil servants, quangos, eurocrats and regulators.

To top that we now have ‘Brexit’.

To borrow that famous Bob Monkhouse quote “ When I said that the proposed RDR regulation would not work, everybody laughed. Well they’re not laughing now.

 

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The chiefs remain in Edinburgh and London but the people are gone

 The chiefs remain in Edinburgh and London but the people are gone

Please forgive me for seeing similarities between the latest ‘post A day’ adviser number fallout and the ‘Highland Clearances’.

For those who do not have a knowledge of the clearances, they were forced displacements of the population of the Scottish Highlands during the 18th and 19th centuries that led to mass emigration to the Scottish Lowlands, coast and the North American colonies.

The clearances were part of a process of agricultural change throughout the UK but were particularly notorious due to the late timing, the lack of legal protection for year-by-year tenants under Scottish law, and the abruptness of the change from the traditional clan system and the brutality of many evictions.

The reality of the highland clearances can still be seen today in the remains of burned out, blackened houses, frequently comprising of whole villages and settlements standing as a testament to the greed of the few in hurting the many.

It is worth remembering, too, that while the rest of Scotland was permitting the expulsion of it’s Highland people, it’s ruling classes were forming the romantic attachment to kilt and tartan that scarcely compensates for the disappearance of a Highland race to whom such things were once a commonplace reality.

The chiefs remained in Edinburgh and London, but the people had gone.

We now have confirmed that as at the 11th February 2016 the number of level 4 qualified advisers in the UK is 29,144.

In January 2006 FT Adviser also notes from an FOI request that adviser numbers stood at 105,710

Some 75% of experienced financial advisers who could have helped provide valuable advice capacity have simply disappeared from the register since 2006.

With all this in mind, it was with some interest that I re-read an article from 23 November 2010 reporting that (according to the now knighted ‘Sir’ Hector Sants) “losing up to 20 per cent of IFAs was an acceptable cost in order to deliver the specific improvements brought in by the RDR, according to the FSA”.

In giving evidence to the Treasury select committee, the yet to be knighted Hector Sants said, “If the reduction in advisers was not acceptable the reforms would not be going ahead”.

To top this, it was reported that Lord Turner reckoned that a “reduction could be good news for consumers who may see a reduction in administrative costs”.

He said: “Some exit of “capacity” from the industry which is therefore an exit of administrative cost may be in the interest of consumers, it a cost which is being absorbed.”

What he actually meant was job losses, certainly not FSA or FCA job losses or cost reductions.

And along with the loss of livelihood for advisory firm staff, provider staff and paraplanners, we are now seeing the results of the ‘survival segmentation’ manifesting itself in consumer disenfranchisement- the unintended but sadly expected outcome of RDR.

The ‘new-speak’ use of words like “capacity” is a nicer, less disturbing way to describe casualties of the unintended or perhaps intended consequences of poorly thought out regulation? ‘Capacity’ is an FCA use of language, equivalent to ‘friendly fire’ or blue on blue’ instead of saying ‘shot by your own side’ or ‘rendition’ instead of state sponsored kidnap.

Those advisers who have survived RDR have built, grown and now transitioned some great businesses. This has taken many challenging years of serving their clients very well to achieve.

But will Andrew Bailey give this very simple thought some consideration,?

Fewer firms having to pay ever more in regulatory fees and levies (despite the logic that fewer firms to regulate should cost less) will see the those surviving financial advisory firms driven out of business as the regulatory cost to run them becomes prohibitive to all…… except the banks.

Rather like those Highland Clearances is’nt it?

Being a cynic means never having to be disappointed (apologies to Love Story)

 

Being a cynic means never having to be disappointed (apologies to Love Story)

The wisdom of operating this mindset was further ratified upon reading the FAMR Final Report. The aspect that most interested me was how the carefully selected panel dignitaries (comprised mainly of theorists) would deal with the persisting issue of the 15-year longstop.

For those whose memory fails them let me remind that this legitimate defence of stale claims, one that other firms and individuals are fully able to rely upon, was summarily removed when the FSA set out the Ombudsman operational rules. Parliament did not discuss or debate the matter and consequently did not vote on its removal. In fact, most MPs remain unaware that this legal defence has been removed and are shocked when told. The FSA’s legal counsel stated that in his opinion it was Parliament’s intention that the 15-year longstop be removed from financial services. When asked for sight of this legal opinion the regulator refused, and continues to do so to this day.

I and a number of others responded to the FAMR ‘consultation’, hoping that for once it might disprove the notion that respondents’ are treated with contempt. However, the rational explanations of why financial services should not be singled out for this loss of human rights fell on deaf ears, or maybe they were listening to the siren voices of the FCA Consumer panel, which was nicely represented on the committee.

As with the sham RDR consultations the FAMR determinations are couched in weasel words where we are assured that the “FAMR is sympathetic to firms’ concerns” and are told why the loss of the longstop must be maintained. Apparently only 216 complaints that reach the Ombudsman fall outside a 15-year period and only 30% (64) of these are upheld.

We are again treated to the view that the financial services industry is a special case and that the long-term nature of advice, blah, blah. Architects, surveyors, builders, politicians, regulators and many other occupations provide advice or services where a negative outcome could eventuate more than 15 years later. In fact, with politicians and regulators it is a fact that most of their decisions end badly.

This is life, things go wrong. The courts and the politicians decided thirty years back that 15 years represented an appropriate balance between the obligations of firms and the rights of customers yet the FSA/FCA is apparently wiser than either Parliament or the judiciary.

When we analyse the FOS complaints figures we find a few interesting matters. Most mortgage endowment cases are now time-barred or had compensation paid so their relevance is waning. Products like SIPPS are relatively new in terms of their take up and long-term care plans have been out of favour for many years so the FOS figures actually mislead. The FOS has a huge budget for advertising, or ‘outreach’ as it prefers to describe it. They will say that they are raising awareness of their service, others might reasonably suggest they are advertising for new business.

The FAMR final report also suggests that the current 3 and 6 year rules serve the industry okay. This is palpably untrue. The rules state that a complaint cannot be levelled more than 6 years after the event complained of or, if later, 3 years from the point at which the complainant knew or ought reasonably to have known that there was a problem.

All well and good except that it is the FOS that determines what “ought reasonably to have realised” means and how this elastic concept is applied. I know of mortgage endowment cases where an insurer has written to a policyholder advising that his plan is off course and that remedial action is required to bring it back on course. You might think such a letter sufficient to trigger, in a reasonable person’s mind, the need to review matters or, if appropriate, make a complaint. The FOS believes otherwise and the 3-year rule is actually a variable time-frame that can be indefinitely extended at the FOS’s discretion.

What about Statutory Instrument 2326 which the Treasury introduced in 2001. This was introduced to ensure that the FOS would use pre 2001 rules when determining complaints regarding pre 2001 advice, so that old complaints would not suffer the new rules and determinations. The FOS ignores SI2326 in every instance, a clear case of an unelected quango treating Parliament (and the industry) with contempt.

Finally, let’s scrutinise the mendacious suggestion on page 58 of the report that financial advisers are joined in their loss of rights by doctors, accountants and solicitors.

Only six accountancy bodies operate a complaints service and, unlike advisers, anybody is allowed to trade as an accountant. Non-body members do not have to operate a complaints system. However, even those accountants who do operate such a system do not have to deal with negligence complaints because these are not covered and have to be dealt with through the courts.

Similarly, with solicitors, where allegations of misconduct must be levelled within 6 months. In other words, they have a 6-month longstop.

The General Medical Council can only look at complaints made within 5 years of the event (a 5-year longstop) so any linkage between these professions and advisers is at best tenuous and, most likely, duplicitous.

In short, the report has solidified the suspicions of many advisers that it was a done deal way before the call for evidence and that we are dealing with a venal organisation intent on forcing its uninformed views on a section of society too disparate to fight back in any meaningful way.

APFA is shackled by its inadequate finances and the fear of rocking the boat. Unless the industry stands together and unites behind a figure, such as Garry Heath, then we probably deserve to be treated with contempt because, as history tells, anything worth having has to be fought for.

Yadda Yadda Yadda

Yadda Yadda Yadda

A great article in Investment Week noted that “The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said it is ready to intervene on the use of language confusing to consumers, if the industry does not develop a credible solution.

The regulator made the comments in its response to a report from the work and pensions committee which investigated the liberalisation of the pension market in April 2015. 

It said the use of jargon and technical terms in communications to consumers made it difficult for them to understand the information and needed to be changed.

The FCA also criticised the emergence of new terms such as UFPLS in the wake of the government pension reforms, which further contributed to the problem. 

It said it was committed to an industry-led solution to the problem, but stood “ready to act” along with government “if this does not prove forthcoming”. 

The regulator had been challenged by MPs on the pensions select committee on its rules for language used in communications. 

In response, the FCA said it had raised the issue of jargon usage in its smarter communications discussion paper last June and had challenged the industry to look at their language and reducing jargon”.

So, the best ‘interventions start at home FCA.

In December we heard that the regulator had  set out how adviser business models will be tested.

They were quoted as saying the guidance is not specific or exhaustive. then added: “Although a specific business model threshold does not currently exist, when assessing a firm against the threshold conditions as a whole, the FSA does ask for information about a firm’s business model.

“Therefore the revised threshold conditions, which now include a specific business model threshold condition, make explicit what is already implicit and as a result we believe our new business model guidance reflects existing practice.”

Who wrote this, why and someone, anyone, please explain what this means.

I think that this statement must qualify as one of the very worst examples of regulatory “W Cubed” speak- the unrealistic claim that your company can deliver whatever, wherever, whenever it’s needed to the regulator.

We also highlighted concerns some while ago that regulation and the various diktats and tomes that accompany it would benefit from being put into plain English.

So when we saw this from the FCA “Behavioral biases can render regulatory interventions aimed at addressing information asymmetries harmful” heads were banged on desks!

I thought it was worth sharing the above on this very topic with you.

In regulation understanding is everything and the starting point is guidance in plain, easy to understand non-“newspeak” English.

The English language today is being highjacked by some crazy versions of “newspeak” and this was a prime example of it.

We live in a society where we no longer have snow drifts – we have accumulations, we no longer have rainfall- we have precipitation, we no longer have fire brigade or ambulance- we have first responders, we no longer have customers- we have consumers.

Your views may well differ, if so, we would like to hear them.

Panacea’s input to the financial advice market review (FAMR)

In November, I was asked by Harriet Baldwin MP (who many may remember came to a Panacea ‘Meet the MP’s event” shortly after her election in 2010) to contribute to the HM Treasury Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR) due to the size, influence and knowledge of the Panacea community.

The Financial Advice Market Review, as you will be well aware, was launched in August 2015 to examine how financial advice could work better for consumers. It is co-chaired by Tracey McDermott and Charles Roxburgh, Director General of Financial Services at HM Treasury.

The meeting with HMT’s Tara Fernando and some treasury seconded FCA officials lasted some ninety minutes where a number of concerns with regard to the five specific FAMR reference sources were discussed for the benefit of the consultation.

There was a great willingness to listen.

It was very clear that there was a considerable lack of understanding around many issues of IFA concern. I think this is because there is a knowledge gap, possibly caused by a failure or desire to fully understand how intermediated distribution works and why. And to understand advice responsibility anomalies such as the current lack of longstop.

It is also clear that regulators do not understand that savings and protection products are sold to the mass market, not actively purchased.

The Treasury and the FCA appear to have no knowledge of the workings or long history of commission payments, the maximum commission agreement or its reason for removal.

You may find the following bullet points with some supporting links, that were the subject of some detailed conversation, to be of interest:

1. The extent and causes of the advice gap for those people who do not have significant wealth or income 

  • Heath Report an overview, access to the report and podcast
  • Commission v Fee the RDR/ GFK report
  • Fees and the post RDR world
  • UK advice & distribution model
  • The FCA was trumpeting the fact that adviser numbers had gone up since RDR and the industry should as a result rejoice.
  • From January 2012 to July 2013 23,406 registered individuals (RI’s) have left the industry and 9,573 have joined.
  • For 2014, 5,979 RI’s have moved firm, 6,799 are no longer authorised and 4,576 have become authorised. Some 17,332 changes in one year and a 2,223 net loss of RI’s. Hardly something to shout about.

2. The regulatory or other barriers firms may face in giving advice and how to overcome them

  • Cost, known’s and unknowns, FSCS funding is wrong, unpredictable and unfair.
  • PI cover, retrospection of regulation makes pricing impossible, a claim makes even getting it a herculean task (air bag analogy)
  • New blood, the aspiration of many to start a new advisory firm has been dampened to say the least. The costs are enormous.
  • FOS perceived bias FOS survey, a link to 2014 survey and to the 2011 survey
  • FOS has no affordable right of appeal, unlike ABTA for example
  • Longstop removal and some other notes on the subject. Regulators today are in many ways a ‘doppelganger’ of the trade unions of the 1970’s, creating unrealistic, restrictive working practices at high cost allowing little or no competition. And we all know how that ended.
  • Many small firms live in fear of the FCA and will not raise their heads above a paparapit to voice concerns for fear of retribution. Very worrying but perhaps ‘Sir Hector’s message was received and understood
  • The ‘Waterbed effect’. It’s effect is the natural but not necessarily intended potential to squeeze one part of a complicated and complex regulated business model (and the attendant regulatory processes) to cause a serious bulge elsewhere in the process.

3.  How to give firms the regulatory clarity and create the right environment for them to innovate  and grow

4. The opportunities and challenges presented by new and emerging technologies to provide cost-effective, efficient and user-friendly advice services,

  • Simplified advice, but what is it- needs defining
  • A solution: to licence a product as fit for purpose, with that purpose clearly defined, as part of the process is the single most effective consumer benefit a regulator could put in place. It is the CAA equivalent of being fit to fly, it is the Food Standards Agency equivalent of safe to eat, it is the VOSA equivalent of saying your car is safe to drive.

5. How to encourage a healthy demand side for financial advice, including addressing barriers which put consumers off seeking advice

  • Consumers should understand that advice comes at a price but that price and the method of how it is actually paid should be determined by the client and adviser firm together and not a regulator.
  • Is commission still a dirty word?
  • Maximum Commission Agreement (MCA) during the 1980s and perhaps earlier there was an apparent unresolved conflict in government policy between investor protection and the belief in unrestricted competition. OFT objected!
  • Pro bono working in IFA firms was the norm in a pre RDR world
  • It is not in a post RDR world
  • The circle game? FSA told consumers advice under RDR wouldn’t cost more. Right possibly, but fewer now have access to it

The review will close on the 22nd December 2015, you have just a few more days to contribute.

Here is a link.

A nice little earner Terry, but what about a slice for the FSCS

The FCA budget for 2013 was £432.1m with adviser contributions being £41.9m for this financial year. For those investment intermediaries who hold client assets this will be £45.3m.

£432.1m is a tidy sum that I am sure the FCA will no doubt find ways to spend wisely. But in addition to the monies paid by firms in the form of regulatory fees, there is another regulatory  ‘F’ word that involves money and that is ‘Fines’!

A Panacea FOI request has revealed that as of 30 October 2013 the totalamount levied in fines was £443,087,738. In ‘Arthur Daly’ speak, “a nice little earner Terry”

It had been my understanding that until recently all fines were to go toward reducing the regulatory cost burden on firms, in effect rewarding those that were not ‘bad boys’ for good behaviour.

By my reckoning that means that the fines P&L account has shown a profit of £11,087,738 on the FCA budgeted costs.

But all is not as it seems and the fines have not been retained by the regulator to see a reduced fee burden for firms, or even to the FSCS- an obvious home for this money.

The FCA has confirmed that “I can advise that certain enforcement costs are retained by the FCA from penalty receipts in line with Schedule 1ZA of the Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA). In addition FSMA required the FCA pay over financial penalty receipts net of certain enforcement costs to the Treasury. These penalty receipts are paid over to the treasury in line with paragraph 20(6) of Schedule 1ZA of FSMA. There is further information about the payment to treasury of penalties on the legislature website. I have included a link to this for your reference”.

So, here’s a very simple thought about solving the funding conundrum that is the FSCS.

After all, the final 2013/14 levy by the FSCS was £285m according to its initial assumptions in its Plan and Budget 2013/14 in early February, that amount could have been comfortably funded by fines. And with £158,087,738 to spare.

A nice little earner Terry” this time for the Treasury, that really seems a little immoral.

Shamefully the HM Government has suggested that the fines are going toward the care and recovery of our troops, Osborne & Cameron sound ‘oh so very caring’ but they only need this care because of the extreme and unecessary danger successive HM Governments place them in, not the financial services industry.

IFA Bill Crowley observed, “In the autumn statement that they announced they were going to give another £100m of financial services fine revenue to Forces charities. I am ex Forces and support the charities wholeheartedly but all he is doing is re-diverting fine money to charities who only exist because injured and disabled servicemen do not get the support they should from the Government, of whatever political persuasion. At the same time he is trying to get political mileage and votes from what is likely to be perceived as a good old bit of Bank bashing and helping our soldiers at the same time. I would just call it cynical and underhand”

As Arthur Daly said the “world’s your lobster” but in regulation, your fines are the Treasury’s. And their Christmas present has arrived early in the form of a nice stocking filler from Lloyds Banking Group, just fined over £28m and the largest ever fine imposed by the FCA or the FSA for retail conduct failings.

I’m off to the Winchester Club for a very large VAT!!

 http://www.panaceaadviser.com