Almost as imperceptible as the Mer du Glace on Mont Blanc slowly receding, today marks the end of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the start of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Hardly a seismic change. Apart from the FCA’s new logo it looks like business as usual on the whole.
There may be an “under new management” sign up at Canary Wharf, but many of the old personnel of the FSA are the faces of the new FCA. At least there is now no confusion with the other FSA, the largely discredited Food Standards Authority following the recent organised horse meat scandal.
The FSA and the new FCA have made it clear to the banks that the sales tactics of yesterday will not be tolerated in the future. It has resulted in the majority of bank sales forces being disbanded. I received an email last week from an ex Lloyds TSB financial adviser looking for a job. It was full of detail describing how he was 282% of his sales target in one branch and 423% of his sales target in another. He may have managed to get his qualifications up to standard but what value is he to the new world of financial planning if he feels sales targets are of any interest to modern financial planning practices? I good salesman is a poor adviser.
The FSA was lambasted for missing the credit crisis and the big picture, but there is no doubt that they helped to push a sales industry into a service profession. I hope the FCA continues to help our fledgling profession by eradicating those who did not have the long term interests of their clients at heart. For a while it will be difficult to find financial advice until new blood enters the profession, but the FSA and the FCA have decided a short term scarcity of good advice is better than the widely available poor sales advice of the past.