July 25, 2016

Financial services regulator the FCA has admitted that unlike God – an entity from which it has not previously been at any obvious pains to differentiate itself – it lacks the power of omnipresence.

“We cannot be everywhere,” confessed recently appointed FCA top honcho Andrew ‘Andy B’ Baileys. This abandonment of all pretence to ubiquity appears to have convinced Bailey that the body he heads could do with some kind of a mission or something – so everyone knows what it’s trying to do.

Clearly struggling for inspiration, the FCA is inviting what it describes as “intensive public consultation”. So if you feel strongly, for example, that the FCA should be all about making sure bank staff dress appropriately for St Patrick’s Day, Halloween. National Hula Day and Christmas – or that highstreet insurance brokers should be obliged to offer free cream teas to all customers visiting their branches – now is the time to speak out.

The FCA is supposed to regulate 56,000 firms, Baileys complains. Now, clearly, that’s never going to happen, so perhaps it really is best we all just agree a more sensible mission – just narrow it down to a couple of easily achieved objectives and call it a day at that.

Obviously we are not all going to agree on precisely what sort of a mission it would be good for the FCA to have. “I recognise that there will be sharply contrasting views on these issues, but it seems to me that the success of the FCA depends on being able to establish its mission and thus a basis for public accountability,” Baileys accepts.

But perhaps if enough of us consult intensively to the effect that we’d rather the FCA went away and looked exclusively at banks – or maybe pay-day loan outfits and merchant bankers – we could claim a people’s-will type mandate and see the interfering b*ggers off for good.

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