FCA chair attacks ‘vested interests’ opposing new regulatory approach

John Griffith-Jones
FCA chairman John Griffith-Jones

Financial Conduct Authority chairman John Griffith-Jones has hit out at powerful “vested interests” for strongly opposing its new approach to regulation.

Speaking at a Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment conference today, Griffith-Jones said firms had been quick to “reach for their lawyers” to oppose FCA decisions in the regulator’s first 100 days.

Last week, former Bank of England governor Lord Mervyn King sounded the alarm over banks aggressively lobbying Government on capital requirements, saying they had “crossed the line”.

Griffith-Jones said the opposition is a product of a new regulatory approach based on principles and judgement, rather than rules, but pledged the regulator would be predictable, consistent and clear in its decisions.

He said: “The earlier we have to intervene the greater possibility we have to get it wrong and the more contentious it is likely to be.

“Where the existence of a problem has not been established beyond all reasonable doubt we are finding ourselves bumping into very strong vested interests that are deeply entrenched and eager to reach for their lawyer if necessary.

“If you want proactive and preventative regulation there has to be some give and take on both sides rather than digging in at the first sign of disagreement over an outcome.”

Griffith-Jones also said the industry should work on closing the financial advice gap, tackling fund charges and ending the use of small print in contracts.

He also warned that most future regulation would come from Europe and it was the responsibility of the Treasury to get a good deal for the UK, not the FCA.