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FSA Publishes 'Road Map To Better Regulation'

by Robin Pilgrim,, London

05 December 2005

The UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) on Friday published plans for further moving the balance of financial services regulation towards high level principles rather than detailed rules and guidance.

In its Better Regulation Action Plan, the regulator summarises more than 30 recent or proposed improvements to the way it regulates, including:

  • Introducing simpler, more up-to-date listing rules – reduced in length by 40% with further simplification to be proposed in 2006;
  • Encouraging industry, rather than regulatory, solutions for problems relating to soft commissions, bundled brokerage and contract certainty – regulation will be considered only if market failures remain uncorrected;
  • Removing barriers restricting access to retail financial advice – allowing alternative business models to remove barriers that impede competition and innovation;
  • Introducing more flexible rules for collective investment schemes – modernising and simplifying the rule book has halved its length;
  • Simpler conduct of business rules – consulting in 2006 on simplifying rules relating to dealing with retail customers, to include removing rules that are no longer effective or proportionate or which overlap and reviewing the balance between high-level and prescriptive rules;
  • Lifting audit requirements for smaller regulated firms – saving around 9,000 firms from having to have annual accounts independently audited;
  • Making application packs shorter – reducing the average time from application to authorisation by 25%; and
  • Cutting bureaucracy for approved persons – reducing form-filling and reporting requirements placed on their employers.

John Tiner, FSA Chief Executive, announced that:

"A shift towards a more principles-based approach will take time to implement, as much care will be needed to ensure that we retain rules that clearly add value in maintaining efficient orderly and fair markets or helping consumers secure a fair deal. Ultimately, though, this approach will produce better outcomes for both consumers and the financial services industry."

The plan also sets out areas in which regulation may increase, particularly through the requirement to implement European Directives.

Here, the FSA stated that it is committed to implementing directives in a sensible and proportionate way. It is obliged to implement the minimum requirements, even if these would fail a cost-benefit analysis from the UK's viewpoint, but it pledged last week that it will not "gold-plate" EU requirements.

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