30 Jan, 2008
Tanya Powley in Belfast -
FSA says it has increased its enforcement resources in a bid to
tackle those firms that continue to fail to meet the regulator's
Treating Customers Fairly guidelines.
Speaking at the mortgage business expo in Belfast, outgoing FSA
small firms division manager Dominic Clark admitted the regulator
has increased its enforcement resources to deal with those firms
that are failing to make the necessary changes.
Clark says it will be identifying those firms that are not meeting
TCF requirements and it is prepared to make further enforcements.
The regulator's 'Enhanced Strategy' initiative - which aims to help
firms engage with its TCF principles - is to kick off in Northern
Ireland in March. Clark says firms will be notified in advance
about visits or surgery sessions will be arranged.
"We've seen a large number of firms over the years. It's all about
increasing the pace of change. We want to see small firms embedding
TCF into all of their processes."
Clark says there will be an impact on fees and this will be
revealed in the FSA's fee consultation paper set to be published on
February 5. He dismissed speculation that fees will be increased
over 25 per cent, noting that the 10-15 per cent range is more
He says the FSA has already started the second round of its Quality
of Advice work, with its staff contacting firms and visits already
underway this week.
Clark warns that enforcements are likely to take place if firms
have still failed to make the changes suggested to them following
the first round of thematic work.
On the question of what sole traders should do to meet TCF
requirements - which have largely been focused at large firms up
until now - Clark suggests sole traders to meet up with fellow sole
practitioners in order to find out what they are doing about
assessing affordability in order to compare notes.
He says that with one-man bands, these firms should make sure they
are maintaining their competence. Clark says: "It's a case of
sitting back and thinking what are the risks to me with this type
of business. Are you getting complaints in? Who or what is
receiving the most complaints."
AMI director Chris Cummings says it will be sending information out
over the next few days for firms - from small to large - to use as
an example of what the regulator requires.