Early preparation has been vital in Biba’s efforts to influence the Financial Services Bill
It used to be that things quietened down a bit in the summer. Not this year though. Commuting to the City during the Olympics presents a number of challenges, while the ever-increasing regulatory agenda raises a range of new issues. But both travelling around London and regulation are tests of foresight and planning, and there are plenty of regulatory issues coming to the boil that we at Biba have been preparing for.
One such issue is the formulation of legislation to create the UK’s new regulatory structure, in the form of the Financial Services Bill. The bill will conclude its passage through the House of Lords after the summer recess, but Biba’s involvement in this process took shape back in March 2011 when we launched our Future of Regulation research papers. These established that UK insurance brokers make a direct and indirect contribution of around 1% to UK GDP, a figure that raised the eyebrows of politicians on both sides of the house. We continue to make the point to them that, at 1%, we should be entitled to a more tailored approach from the regulator, rather than being lumped in with others.
The research went on to detail the disproportionate and inappropriate style of FSA regulation for insurance brokers, and also established the huge disparity between UK regulatory costs and those elsewhere in the EU. It is this part of the research that we are now trying to work into amendments to the bill.
We met a number of MPs and Lords following publication of the research. More recently we have had a number of meetings with members of the House of Lords to discuss how we might be able to influence the legislation. We are working up some amendments that would tackle the appropriateness and proportionality of FCA regulation, create some downward pressure on regulatory costs, and that take into account the competitive position of the UK – none of this is currently addressed in the bill.
The government is wedded to regulatory change, and we understand that most amendments are being blocked by the whips. We do, though, have the support of peers from all three major parties, and will continue to press for changes through the late summer and early autumn.
If this summer has taught us all anything, it is the value of planning and contingency planning!