FSA denies pushing for standardisation

The Financial Services Authority has defended itself against accusations that it is tightening regulation to ease its workload and has instead laid the blame at the door of companies.

Technology experts claim that the FSA is looking to tighten regulations to lead to a standardisation of pro-cesses. They say IT services would then take over, making the regulator’s job easier.

Alan Birch, sales director for FiServ Europe Russia and South Africa, says: “The FSA wants to make sure every-one has the same services and pro- cess standards in place as this would make it easier for it to do its job.

“With more regulation you end up having more similar processes. In the US, the reason technology has been able to take as large a share of the market as it has is because of regulation. That’s increasingly becoming the case over here.”

But a source at the FSA says: “We have never imposed standardisation. We ask only that regulated firms comply with our rules. If they outsource processes we just state that it is up to senior management to make sure the rules are adhered to. The fact is many firms want to be standardised because it saves them time and money but they won’t admit it.”

Jonathan Cornell, technical director at Hamptons Mortgages, says: “Lenders probably don’t want standardisation but brokers do. If every lender has the same sort of systems it makes life easier for brokers. And lenders benefit as brokers make fewer mistakes. Origo’s open standards project is a good example of this.”

Ian Giles, director of marketing at Kensington Mortgages, says: “You could say the FSA has a standardisation agenda because it has asked for all regulated returns to be sent in a standard format called XMLR.

“Standardisation would make a lot of packagers’ lives easier. But this won’t come about any time soon as not many lenders will want to give away a competitive advantage by making it easier for those who have no e-commerce solution to create one.”