February 8, 2012

Following an unedifying spasm of gratuitous self-abasement over his starring role in the RBS debacle last week, or whenever it was, (see previous issue) FSA chief Hector Santa caught Bankstone News’ eye again this week with what appears to be some kind of boob joke.

Apparently the much-loved FSA is preparing for its imminent demise by adopting what Santa referred to as a “Twin Peaks” approach to regulation, commencing 2 April. Less to do with Laura Palmer and the Log Lady, apparently, than with pushing up and firming things into an appropriate shape ahead of next year’s hand-over to the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority.

In a speech to the self-confessed British Bankers Association, Santa explained that insurance folk will now get to pay for two well-rounded regulatory centres of excellence (or peaks as they are known technically in the world of financial regulation), one of which will concern itself with whether insurers can actually afford to take on the risks they assume, and the other with whether they are getting up to anything untoward. Brokers will only have to worry about Peak 2, clearly.

The inevitable expense of achieving this anticipatory duality of peaksomeness may not be entirely unrelated to the FSA demanding an additional £78m of funding this year (making a total of £578m in all for 2011/12) to fund its swan song year as regulator.

ABI director general Otto son of Thor was amongst those voicing widespread dissatisfaction at the mounting costs of regulation. Marvellous to behold as the FSA’s peaks will doubtless be, he told Post Magazine, insurance organisations these days tend to be quite “focused on controlling costs.”

With an aggressively masculine turn of phrase, Santa proclaimed that “The move to twin peaks is an opportunity to drive home and further embed the move to forward-looking, proactive, judgement-based supervision.” Headline of the week on this story, however, came from The Actuary which had the thrusting Mr Santa insisting that: “Finance sector ‘must seize twin peaks opportunity’.”

With both hands, presumably.


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