We often say in this business that we are second-guessing what might come over the horizon, particularly from a regulatory perspective. However, it is possible to gain an insight into what the FCA is likely to focus on in the coming year.
Its recently published business plan gives a clear rundown on the areas of interest. There is much in the plan to make both mortgage lenders and advisers prick up their ears. Topics covered include the issue of firms’ culture, the treatment of existing customers, the impact of the pension reforms and, interestingly, the financial stresses and strains younger customers are currently under.
Culture is about whether staff will place “consumer interest and market integrity” above self-interest. The FCA believes many do not.
I have to agree with the vast majority of the business plan, particularly this push for a culture, Acting in the best interests of customers has not always been the number one priority and it seems we now have a regulator that will act if this is not the case. It is a warranted intervention and will perhaps finally move financial services in general into a more customer-focused mindset.