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New look, same old taste

So, farewell to the FSA. It took charge of regulating the UK mortgage market on 29 October 2004 and under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 had four main objectives – maintaining market confidence, promoting public understanding of the financial system, securing the appropriate degree of protection of consumers and fighting financial crime.

On pretty much all four of these you could make a convincing argument that it well and truly failed.

Will it be different with the Financial Conduct Authority? Its new logo, a diagonal white line against a maroon background, is meant to represent a spotlight that highlights this new organisation’s primary focus – conduct.

That will certainly be a departure from the soft-touch regime of the FSA. Nine years ago on Mortgage Day the FSA’s then chief executive John Tiner talked of looking to “enforce the perimeter” like an over-fed guard dog.

By contrast the FCA’s chief executive Martin Wheatley has talked more like the new Sheriff in town, willing to use Twitter and whatever means he has at his disposal to ensure the industry is toeing the line.

Whether the FCA will be more successful than its predecessor and provide anything more different than swapping its middle syllable remains to be seen.

Critics are still concerned that the FCA, like the FSA, is too big, too expensive and accuse it of having too little focus on getting out and about to find out what is actually going on at the market.

But the last nine years have shown how important effective regulation for the mortgage market is – hopefully now with the FCA we will finally get it.

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