100 days of the FCA - Martin Wheatley speaks at the ABI Biennial Conference

Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), will today tell the Association of British Insurers (ABI) Biennial Conference that the FCA is “a very different animal to the Financial Services Authority (FSA)”.

Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), will today tell the Association of British Insurers (ABI) Biennial Conference that the FCA is “a very different animal to the Financial Services Authority (FSA)”.

After 100 days in operation, Martin will also tell the audience that his vision for successful regulation is also a vision of successful, competitive markets. That means the best firms, products and services thriving, with the worst performing exiting the market.

“A market that works well for consumers and for firms will be of benefit to everyone and to the UK economy. We want consumers to be in in a position to drive healthy competitive markets so that they become the new normal.

“And where firms can profit from putting consumer first and where they can’t, they exit the market without disrupting its integrity.”

General insurance add-on study

Martin will also speak about the FCA’s study into insurance add-on products, often sold with bigger purchases like a holiday, a car, or gadgets. The piece of work is the FCA’s first to focus on competition.

The market study will look at the nature of competition in these markets, in particular whether these products represent good value for money and whether consumers understand what they are getting with their policy.

A key focus of the study is to investigate what impact add-ons have on consumer behaviour and expectations, how firms respond to those, and whether poor market outcomes arise as a result.  Martin will say:

“Our new competition duty is the single most significant change in our objectives as a regulator. It means that we don’t just wait for problems before we try to promote competition in the markets we regulate.

“We have our first market study underway looking at general insurance add-ons.  We’ve called for evidence and approached a number of firms in the market for information. We are testing whether poor outcomes in add-on sales could reflect particular consumer behavioural traits and firms’ responses to them.”

100 days of the FCA

With the 9July, the day of the ABI conference, being the FCA’s one hundredth day in operation, Martin took the chance to reflect.

“One of the questions I was most frequently asked 101 days ago was: ‘Is the FCA going to be genuinely different from the FSA?’.  We understand why people reserved judgement - the FSA needed to change.

“100 days later I think we are taking steps in the right direction. The FCA is in many areas a very different animal from the FSA.

“We’re not just asking: Is this product compliant? Does it tick every legal box? But actually: is the outcome good? Is the market competitive? And is fair treatment of consumers designed into products and culture?”

A roadmap for good regulation

Martin will close by telling the assembled crowd that “good regulation is not a zero-sum game”. He will say:

“This is not a case of one side having to win and the other having to lose. We each have a vested interest in making markets work well for all participants.

“Regulators need to serve the market better by acting more swiftly. By intervening earlier and more intelligently to avoid crises down the line.

“That process of repair is now underway. Our first 100 days are a marker of what lies ahead.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The full text of the speech.
  2. The FCA is carrying out a number of reviews into everyday insurance, and has already published the findings of its work looking at motor legal expenses insurance, mobile phone insurance, how firms handle claims, and a fine for one mobile phone insurance firm. The FCA is also looking at premium finance and private investigators.
  3. On the 1 April 2013 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
  4. The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
  5. Find out more information about the FCA, as well as how it is different to the PRA.