The regulator’s newly released service metrics demonstrate its commitment to becoming more assertive

By Yiannis Kotoulas

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One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was: “Before you save the world, make sure your own house is in order.”

It’s not an entirely novel thought, but moral authority is important – we tend to respect instructions more when the people making us do something can demonstrate their own willingness to conform to the rules.

And when they don’t, things can get messy – cast your mind back to Partygate and the end of Boris Johnson’s premiership for a particularly apt example. 

With that in mind, it was good to see that the FCA is taking its own responsibilities around performance seriously – especially after the recent period, when the regulator has made its promises to become more assertive a reality. 

During the run-up to the implementation of Consumer Duty last year, there were various grumblings in the market that while the regulation was needed, the FCA itself was not exactly an example of a well-run organisation. 

Staff at the regulator went on strike over 4 and 5 May 2022 for the first time ever and more were rumoured for 2023, although these did materialise.

At the end of last month (30 Jan 2024), however, the FCA announced that it would give all employees a pay rise to pull in more staff from the private sector by pushing pay to among the highest in public sector organisations. 

Performance metrics

Pay rises for staff to address discontent are a positive step for the insurance industry’s regulator. 

And it seems that the FCA is also getting its house in order where other performance metrics are concerned. Published this week (13 January 2024), the FCA’s Authorisations operating service metrics 2023/24 Q3 showed that 95.6% of all new firm authorisation applications were determined within the statuatory deadline. 

For reference, the figure for the same period last year was just 93.5% and, crucially, was determind by the FCA to be declining. 

In the latest figures this decline had been addressed and the FCA noted that it had determined 341 cases in Q3, with only 15 cases taking longer than the recommended time to decide upon. 

An FCA statement explained: ”We want to make sure the UK is the best place in the world for financial services to thrive. This involves providing an effective and efficient service whilst maintaining high standards to protect customers and to bolster the reputation of the UK market.” 

Quite so – it seems that the FCA recognises the importance of its own moral authroity and how bad it looks to the markets it regulates to not be meeting its own standards. 

And with that moral authority in place alongside the very real regulatory authority that the FCA wields, those not conforming to the FCA’s ideals of fair value will most likely find themselves on the wrong side of a newly capabale and assertive regulator.