FSA to take action against more firms over arrears handling

The Financial Services Authority has today published its annual report for the year 2010/11, in which it warns there will be more action taken against firms for treating customers in arrears unfairly.

In its report it says: “In January we announced the publication of the 101st mortgage broker prohibition. We have also taken tough action in mortgage arrears cases where firms have not treated customers in arrears fairly and failed to give consumers the protection they deserve.

“There will be further action in this area in the coming year.”

In April 2010 it fined Kensington Mortgage Company £1.225m in relation to its mortgage arrears handling processes and its dealings with customers in arrears and in July 2010 it fined Redstone Mortgages £630,000 for failings in relation to its mortgage arrears.

More recently it fined DB Mortgages £840,000 for irresponsible lending practices and unfair treatment of customers in arrears.

Across all sectors it published Final Notices imposing a record £98.5m in financial penalties during the year.

Also in its report the regulator says over the last year, it has also made progress in the mortgage market towards implementing intensive supervision of conduct issues, both on a firm-specific and sector-wide basis.

It says: “We have developed an approach to test firms’ business models and assess whether they pose any inherent risks to consumers and to assess the quality of the outcomes that consumers are receiving.

“We have completed our assessment programme for smaller firms and used the lessons learned from it to develop a revised supervisory approach that is more proportionate and risk-based.

“We recognise that there will always be instances where firms fail to treat their customers fairly and have therefore retained our focus on addressing these issues.”

The annual report also reveals the annual salary of FSA chairman Adair Turner, who received a salary of £426,000  in the year, but no bonus.

Hector Sants, executive director of the FSA was paid a salary of £500,000 and other emoluments and benefits of £131,000, and a bonus of £115,000 while £60,000 was paid into his pension, giving him a total pay package of £806, 810, compared to £773,067 the previous year.

Margaret Cole received a £191,722 salary, with a performance related bonus of £28,603, her total pay packet was £263,686 once all the benefits had been accounted for.

Commenting on the report, Tuner, says: “The past year has seen further progress on the major changes in regulatory and supervisory approach already underway at the FSA, alongside our preparations for the structural changes announced by the government last June.

“We will remain focused on our statutory objectives until the formal move to the new structure and have continued to make strong progress in delivering our priorities. This wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment and professionalism of our staff.”