FCA chairman ‘pats himself on the back’ for transforming attitudes

Ryan Bembridge

March 15, 2018

The FCA’s outgoing chairman John Griffith-Jones has credited the regulator with transforming the attitudes of financial services firms since it was founded in 2013.

But his statement received a mixed reception with Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at John Charcol.

Griffith-Jones said: “The FCA has been highly influential in transforming attitudes in financial services firms.”

He added: “It is having a direct and positive impact in protecting the many millions of UK households. We have worked on the basis that prevention is far better than cure.

“This translates into rule making or competition remedies to prevent systemic harm where foreseeable, redress and enforcement in individual firm cases or where damage has already been done.”

Griffith-Jones was speaking to City UK, a non-profit company representing financial and related professional services.

But Boulger responded: “It’s not surprising that the outgoing chairman is going to pat himself and the FCA on the back.

“But it’s one sided and you could easily highlight points where the FCA has failed.

“In the mortgage market there are elements that might have looked reasonable in 2013 but now look onerous.

“Back in 2013 they put in lending controls which seemed necessary and now the question is whether they should relax them.

“You can make banks as safe as possible but the question is whether this restricts the economy.”

He added: “The challenge for the regulator and indeed lenders is to have criteria which protects them adequately but not to have criteria that’s so tight that you don’t lend to people that you should be lending to.”

Boulger is of the opinion that first-time buyers struggling to save for a deposit are underserved, due to the reluctance of lenders to offer mortgages above 95% loan-to-value regardless of the level of applicants’ income.

Griffith-Jones will be replaced by Charles Randell as chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority in April.

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