FCA chief: New mission is not a ‘political shield’

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The FCA’s new mission statement is not meant as a “political shield”, the regulator’s chief executive Andrew Bailey has said.

It is also not about “repositioning” the regulator, but will better explain what the regulator does and why it does it, Bailey has said.

The FCA published the consultation today, describing it as a set of principles that will inform the regulator’s strategy and day-to-day work.

In a press conference on the mission, when asked if the mission is an attempt to move away from former chief executive Martin Wheatley’s “shoot first ask questions later” stance to be more cooperative with the City, Bailey says the consultation is not about repositioning itself as being more pro-firm or consumer focused.

He says: “It is about explaining what we do and how we do it. We have not written it to reposition the FCA.”

Bailey adds: “I have said before on the shoot first and ask questions later, I think there is debate around exactly what context the remark was made in. I don’t think Martin actually meant it quite in that way because we have processes to go through which have to satisfy the law. And shooting first and asking questions later clearly wouldn’t.”

Bailey was also asked if the mission is a “political shield” the FCA can use when something goes wrong.

He says: “There is an element of truth about it. I’m not sure I would use the word political shield. Because we have to make choices it is important we are transparent about the choices we make and transparent about explaining why the choices we have made have been made.”

Bailey adds: “We could easily come across a situation where we make our choices, we explain how we set our priorities…and something else in the landscape goes badly wrong. That can happen because unexpected things happen and I would not then see this as a shield in the sense that, ‘you can never blame us for anything that goes wrong in the parts of the landscape we have not prioritised’.”

“But it is useful in the accountability process to be able to say here is how we reached our judgements, we recognise that something has gone wrong elsewhere, we can look at why it went wrong because the Act provides for the ability to review when that sort of thing does happen. It would help to be more transparent about how we have made the choices we have in that situation.”

The regulator outlined several areas for consultation as part of the mission, including the circumstances it can intervene with unregulated activities.

It is also proposing a review of its handbook.