June 8, 2012

Basically everybody hates the FSA.* It’s just not terribly prudent to come out and say it in public. Hence the widespread vicarious satisfaction derived from the airing of stories such as the following in which leading City law firm Renault Sporty Chamberlain (RPP) castigates the FSAsters for being a bit rubbish and getting in the way of decent hard working people who simply want to get on with the business of taking money off other decent hard working people.

“Having to wait an inordinately long time for FSA approval has been a real bug**r in the financial services sector for the last two years,” says RPP partner Stevie Francis. Apparently the length of time the FSA takes to authorize new firms has risen from a frankly intolerable 17.3 weeks to a literally ludicrous 19.6 weeks in the past 52.2 weeks (an increase of 13%).

“Financial services businesses often complain,” Mr Francis continues, “that the FSA is understaffed, meaning their application to trade can take too long to authorise. That’s definitely been a problem for the regulator since the coalition announced it was going to break-up the FSA.”

So it’s understaffing that’s causing all the problems, then? Well, yes and no. Apparently the FSA have also been quite keen since the whole credit crunch/global economic meltdown thing kicked in not to authorise people who are going to do naughty things.

But how is this making would-be business starters feel? “It can be incredibly frustrating,” Says Mr F of RPP, “for firms that have to wait almost half a year for approval.” For reference, half a year equates to 6.0 months.

But perhaps what looks like simple indolence or under-resourcing could in fact be a cunning plan to take the risk out of Britain’s financial services sector by cutting off the problems at source. If the delays could just be eked out a little longer, new applicants might simply give up and go away, leaving older firms to run their natural course, eventually die away and so gradually return this fair land to an unspoilt state of pre-usurine purity.

Bankstone News, by contrast, finds all this festering antipathy quite incomprehensible and strongly applauds the regulator’s every thought and deed.


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