Martin Wheatley: What the FCA can learn from the Tour de France

Financial Conduct Authority chief executive Martin Wheatley

Financial Conduct Authority chief executive Martin Wheatley says there are lessons to be learnt from how cycling regulators have dealt with Tour de France doping scandals.

Writing in City AM today, Wheatley compared cycling’s drug scandals, most notably seven-time winner Lance Armstrong being stripped of his titles last year, with financial services’ misconduct.

Last night British cyclist Chris Froome became the second Briton in successive years to win the Tour de France.

Wheatley said: “We can use the Union Cycliste Internationale as an analogy for the British financial regulatory system. The teams are like regulated financial firms, with shareholders as well as managers. The riders are the products, from plain vanilla, off-the-shelf items to star asset managers.

“The spectators are like financial consumers. They reward sponsoring firms by purchasing their products. They will walk away if they suspect they are watching cheats. Prizes are like bonuses and rival teams provide incentives to compete, including the possibility of better-paid jobs.

“We know there are the incentives to cheat, especially for teams that are falling behind. So it can be difficult for individual teams who want to break free and do the right thing.

“These issues are rather familiar to regulators of retail financial conduct.”

Wheatley said that just as the UCI must invest in science to keep up with drug cheats, so the FCA must invest in the research of financial markets and products.

He also says the FCA will be “actively taking on” the medium and long-term nature of financial products but gave no further details the the approach that will be used.