New UK market watchdog warns of no let up in abuses crackdown

Published October 16, 2012

| Reuters

Britain's new markets watchdog will be more selective in how it supervises financial firms and will promote competition to ensure fair treatment of customers after a string of mis-selling scandals.

Martin Wheatley, chief executive designate of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), a new supervisor which will be launched early in 2013, told a Thomson Reuters event on Tuesday the new system would have a "greater appetite to get things done".

"Fewer firms will have regular direct contact with supervisors, as we shift resources to allow us to deal more quickly and effectively with emerging issues, and run more cross-industry projects to get to the root cause of problems," Wheatley said.

Britain is shaking up its supervisory system to plug gaps highlighted by the financial crisis and try to draw a line under 20 years of product mis-selling scandals, from home loans to insurance policies.

The FCA will replace the Financial Services Authority, which will be scrapped, and focus on enforcement and keeping markets clean. The FSA's banking and insurance supervisory tasks will be transferred to the Bank of England.

"Our new approach will include tools, such as competition, that were never available to the FSA," Wheatley said.

"We will also consider whether competition could lead to better results than other action we could take."

Wheatley sought to reassure the industry that he will use other new powers carefully, such as being able to ban products and force the withdrawal of marketing literature.

"Firms selling the right products, in the right way, to the right consumers have little to fear," he said.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Potter)

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