Treasury Committee highlights 'broader problems' at FCA

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) may have more problems those which emerged in the Davis report, The Treasury Committee has said.

The Treasury Committee also called on the (FCA) to do more to show it had learned lessons following the pre-briefing of its life insurance review to a Telegraph journalist.

The Davis report found the FCA guilty of a ‘dereliction of duty' in briefing a newspaper on its plans to review long-term insurance contracts which subsequently affected the stock market.

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Committee, said: "The FCA made a serious error in March last year. By breaching its own listing rules, it created a false market in life insurance shares.

"In doing so it put its own statutory objectives at risk. The evidence from this episode suggests that problems may still exist at the FCA. It is not yet clear to the committee that the FCA has fully grasped this."

Tyrie continued: "The FCA created a false market in life insurance shares-investors were trading on the basis of misleading information.

"It took the FCA over six hours from the opening of the market the next day to correct the misapprehension that its own communications approach created.

"Had a regulated firm behaved as the FCA did last March, the FCA is likely to have imposed a considerable fine. There seemed to be one rule for the regulator, and another for the regulated."

He added: "Simon Davis's report uncovered a number of serious control failures at the FCA, which contributed to the particular incident on 28 March 2014. The FCA has now made a commitment to address these failings.

"The evidence in Mr Davis's report, however, suggests that there may be broader problems at the FCA, which range far wider than points of process and procedure.

"The events leading up to and in the aftermath of the pre-briefing demonstrate a failure to share expertise - not least on listing requirements - throughout the organisation, a tendency not to co-ordinate, a failure of staff to take initiative and an at times overbearing treatment by the communications area of other parts of the FCA.

"Furthermore, the FCA seems to have lost sight of its overarching objective: to make sure that relevant markets work well.

"The Executive Committee failed to pay sufficient attention to the risk that its own communications could move the markets. When this risk materialised, they failed to act with sufficient urgency to put things right.

"It is not clear to the Committee that the FCA has considered seriously whether there might be wider problems - setting aside the detailed control failures identified by Mr Davis - that help to explain how such a serious incident was allowed to occur."

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