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  1. The Financial Conduct Authority is currently investigating 29 financial adviser firms or individuals for enforcement action ranging from fraud to misselling - although it is investigating only two mortgage brokers at present. Responding to a freedom of information request from Mortgage Strategy’s sister title Money Marketing, the FCA says there are two mortgage broker firms or individuals under investigation as of 13 May. There is also one firm under investigation that sells both mortgages and other forms of financial advice. The enforcement actions relate to financial crime, mortgage fraud, misselling and the suitability of advice, treating customers fairly and systems and controls issues. Advisers are also being investigated for breaches of anti-bribery and corruptions controls, competence or integrity issues, complaints handling, undertaking regulated activities without permission and promoting unregulated collective investment schemes. Telos Solutions director Richard Farr says: “It is a small number but nobody wants to be in enforcement so one is too many. I would expect the number to rise as the FCA takes on new powers.” Link: http://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/latest-news/fca-investigating-29-financial-advisers-and-two-mortgage-brokers/1072251.article
  2. The FCA publishes findings of review into interest-only mortgages and reaches agreement with lenders to contact interest-only borrowers The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its research into consumers’ ability to repay their interest-only mortgages when they mature. The findings show that many people should be in a good position to repay their mortgage when it is due for repayment. However many borrowers, particularly those whose mortgage is due to be repaid before 2020, will need to take control of their mortgage repayment planning now. To that end the FCA, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) and the Building Societies Association (BSA) are working together to ensure lenders contact their borrowers in order to prompt them into checking their plan for repayment is on track and considering the options available to them. This type of pre-emptive work is indicative of the way the FCA will act in the future, endeavouring to spot potential problem areas and prevent them from developing into bigger issues. By acting now, together with the mortgage sector, the FCA is aiming to prevent interest only borrowers defaulting on their loans in the future. The FCA believes that with careful planning, consideration and engagement with their lender, many interest only borrowers - even those with loans maturing by 2020 - should be able to find a viable way to pay off their mortgage if they take control now. For those set to repay their loan before 2020, Link: http://www.fca.org.uk/news/interest-only-mortgages
  3. Great news I just noticed over on MSE that doesn't seem to have been posted here. http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/banking/2013/04/card-protection-and-id-protection-mis-selling-now-banks-will-have-to-refund-victims The gist of this is that the FCA have now decided that the financial institutions who got people signed up for CPP are also responsible for mis-selling and will have to refund their customers. The article says "Those mis-sold are entitled to whatever they paid out." but doesn't mention statutory interest or any interest that may have been charged on what was paid out. Does anyone know how that works?
  4. Few will mourn the passing of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) which closed it's doors on 31st March. It will be mainly remembered as the watchdog that didn't bark. It was seen as reluctant to take action against individuals involved in breaking the rules, be they big or small. It was critcised as too slow, too reactive, too dedicated to its rule book. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/mar/24/farewell-fsa-bleak-legacy-light-touch-regulator The Financial Conduct Authority replaces the FSA and new authority has promised "a renewed focus on consumers" as well as "strong enforcement action" when it encounters market abuse. The FCA has also claimed it "will be much more proactive, acting earlier and more decisively than the FSA". Hopefully the FCA's statements will be backed up by strong action, sooner rather than later. http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/five-questions-about-the-fca-8554716.html
  5. Why the FCA is a joke: http://www.ianfraser.org/paul-moore-why-john-griffith-jones-must-go/
  6. Computer problems that affected RBS customers last summer are to be investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The IT meltdown locked many RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers out of their accounts. Some £175m has been set aside by the bank, which is 80%-owned by the UK government, for compensation payments. The bank said that it had improved its services since the problems occurred in June and July. The FCA has taken over investigative duties from the Financial Services Authority.It has not set a timetable for the investigation. The investigation is the first stage of a process that could lead to an unlimited fine if the regulator finds evidence of wrongdoing. It will cover the RBS Group - including NatWest and Ulster Bank. A spokeswoman for the RBS Group said: "Last summer's IT failure was unacceptable. We have already made significant improvements and over the next three years will invest hundreds of millions in our systems. "We will be working closely with our regulators in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Our customers deserve a service they can rely on 100% of the time and that is what we want to provide." Backlog The meltdown was caused by a computer failure in the overnight transfer of money between accounts. Even though payments had been made - such as a business paying wages to staff - this did not show up on account balances. In turn this meant many customers could not make payments themselves, such as paying rent to their landlord. The failure effectively caused a traffic jam in the system. It created a huge backlog in updating account balances which was not solved for some time. Some Ulster Bank customers were among the worst affected, and their accounts were not back to normal for weeks. The problems also had a knock-on effect for customers of other banks because payments they were expecting had not come through from RBS accounts. The banking group apologised a number of times to the 16 million customers affected and set up a system of emergency cash payments and late branch openings. It promised that nobody would be left permanently out of pocket as a result of the problems, and automatically cancelled any overdraft fees that were triggered. However, it was one of a number of issues that struck blows to the reputation of the bank, which had to be rescued by the government during the banking crisis. In March this year, a separate incident caused problems with online and phone banking, cash withdrawals and debit card payments at the RBS Group banks, and left it with an additional compensation bill. This incident is not thought to be part of the FCA investigation. More; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22083695
  7. Financial Conduct Authority chairman John Griffith-Jones is facing calls to resign after he failed to flag up huge losses at HBOS in his role as chairman of accountancy firm KPMG. KPMG audited HBOS before its collapse and gave the bank a clean bill of health. Last week, the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards published a damning report about HBOS’s management. It revealed the bank was shouldering £47bn of losses when it was audited by KPMG. According to the Daily Mail, Labour MP and Treasury select committee member John Mann has called for Griffith-Jones to quit. He says: “He should absolutely resign. These grossly failed businessmen should not be in any senior positions in any organisation. Griffith-Jones played along with this Alice in Wonderland economics and the taxpayers are now footing the bill.” Tory MP and TSC member Brooks Newmark has written to committee chairman Andrew Tyrie calling for Griffith-Jones to resign. The FCA, which will publish a report on the bank’s collapse, says Griffith-Jones will not be involved. A spokesman says: “John Griffith-Jones was subject to a rigorous appointment process by HM Treasury, and had an appointment hearing with the Treasury select committee.” KPMG may be investigated by the Financial Reporting Council over its audit of HBOS. The FRC says it will review the commission’s report and the FCA’s conclusions “to see whether there is a case for an investigation under our powers”. Link: http://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/latest-news/fca-chair-griffith-jones-faces-calls-to-resign-over-hbos-audit/1069137.article
  8. FSA/PN/27/2013 25 Mar 2013 The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has published the business plan and risk outlook for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for 2013/14. The FSA will be replaced by the FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) on 1 April 2013. The risk outlook sets out the challenging economic backdrop as well as outlining how the FCA will assess market conditions and identify future risks. Many of these are complex and will require several years’ focus. The business plan sets out how these risks will be managed in the first year and how the FCA will use its resources effectively to meet its objectives, which are: •To secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers. • To protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system. •To promote effective competition in the interests of consumers. The FSA has undertaken the risk outlook to identify the key risks in the financial services industry in the year ahead. This analysis has shaped the FCA’s priorities for its first year, so that the new regulator uses its powers to ensure that consumers are protected, that firms meet FCA standards and markets operate with integrity - from day one. The key areas of focus for the year ahead include: •A renewed focus on consumers. This will include helping to ensure that firms’ strategies are aligned with producing appropriate outcomes for consumers − for example, through the work on product governance and incentive structures in firms; •Continuing to tackle market abuse, by taking strong enforcement action to deter future misconduct. Clean markets ensure the integrity of the UK financial system. Focusing on wholesale conduct will be critical for the FCA, as will the new approach to the supervision of trading platforms; •Ensuring a competitive financial services industry. A significant change for the FCA, this will involve building a new Competition Department to embed competition analysis across the organisation, which will take action as appropriate; •Continuing to address ongoing misconduct, such as LIBOR, Payment Protection Insurance and interest rate swaps; and •Carrying forward major policy initiatives such as the Mortgage Market Review, the changes to retail investment advice and extensive engagement with Europe on important Directives under consideration. The risk outlook underpins the business plan. The main risks identified for the coming year are: •Firms not designing products and services that respond to real consumer needs or are in consumers’ long-term interests; •Distribution channels not promoting transparency for consumers on financial products and services; •Over-reliance on, and inadequate oversight of, payment and product technologies. •Shift towards more innovative, complex or risky funding strategies or structures that lack oversight, posing risks to market integrity and consumer protection; and •Poor understanding of risk and return, combined with the search for yield or income, leads consumers to take on more risk than is appropriate. A number of the risks identified are about what could go wrong – firms or products failing and consumers suffering detriment. However, the other side of the risk equation is the wider consumer detriment arising from people not being able to get access to the right products. The FCA will therefore also be focusing much of its efforts on these longer term risks. These include firms not investing in innovative new products to meet the changing needs of society; withdrawal of sales forces; and too few new entrants in to the industry to allow competition to flourish. The FCA will take a risk-based approach to supervision, recognising the diversity of the firms and markets that it regulates. The new regulator will be much more proactive, acting earlier and more decisively than the FSA. This new approach will ensure that the focus is on issues that have wider, longer-term effects on consumers and market integrity. The FCA will also continue the FSA’s work to use its enforcement powers to take action against firms and individuals who abuse the system to deter others from doing so. Martin Wheatley, CEO designate of the FCA, said: “Firms need to ensure that they are putting the consumer and the integrity of markets at the heart of their business models and strategies. This includes making cultural changes which promote good conduct; establishing oversight around the design and innovation of products and services; and ensuring they are transparent in their dealings with consumers. “Our first year as a new regulator will be an exciting and challenging time but one for which we are well prepared. We are introducing new approaches to the way we do much of our work, becoming much more proactive and consumer focussed. A risk for all regulators is becoming bound to conventional thinking. That is why the new regulator will be much more transparent, so we can learn from our mistakes. There is no room for the poor behaviour of the past. We will take action early and decisively when we see evidence of poor practices. “We cannot succeed wholly in isolation. To achieve our aims, we need the cooperation of the firms we regulate and the vigilance of their customers. A strong, successful financial services industry is essential for consumers across the UK, and for the economic health of the whole country.” Notes for editors 1.Read the business plan and risk outlook. 2.The FCA will supervise the conduct of approximately 26,000 firms across all financial industry sectors and the prudential standards of approximately 23,000 firms not regulated by the PRA. 3.The FSA regulates the financial services industry and has four objectives under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000: maintaining market confidence; securing the appropriate degree of protection for consumers; fighting financial crime; and contributing to the protection and enhancement of the stability of the UK financial system. 4.The FSA will be replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority in 2013 as required by the Financial Services Act 2012. Link: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/library/communication/pr/2013/027.shtml Business Plan: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/static/pubs/plan/bp2013-14.pdf Risk Outlook: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/static/pubs/other/fcarco.pdf
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