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This is the last Annual Report of the Financial Services Authority (FSA). It covers the 12 months to March 31 2013. From April 1 the FSA’s responsibilities were divided between its two successor bodies, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
I took over as Chairman of the FSA on 20 September 2008. Stresses in the global financial system had been growing since the previous summer. Over the subsequent three weeks they intensified, producing the worst financial crisis for 70 years. The financial crisis revealed significant deficiencies in the prudential regulatory approach which the FSA, in common with other regulators and central banks across the world, had applied in the pre-crisis period. But the FSA had already recognised some of those deficiencies in the Internal Audit Report on Northern Rock, published six months before I arrived. And the organisation I joined was determined to recognise and publicly admit its mistakes, to learn from them and to put them right.
Over the subsequent four and a half years, the FSA radically reformed its approach to prudential supervision and was a global leader in the definition and implementation of new capital and liquidity standards. We also made major changes in our approach to conduct regulation, intervening earlier when issues first arose, and more effectively addressing long standing issues such as payment protection insurance (PPI) misselling. We built steadily over the years a more effective enforcement approach of credible deterrence. And the Markets Division continued to oversee the London wholesale market professionally and effectively.
The FSA’s successor bodies will build on these achievements. They will be in a better position to do so because they are able to focus on the distinct challenges of prudential and conduct regulation and supervision. The sheer range of FSA responsibilities and activities described in this report illustrates the case for a new organisational approach which will enable that distinct focus. But delivering the effective demerger of the PRA and FCA has inevitably been a major challenge – requiring a myriad of decisions relating to personnel, process design, premises and IT support. On the FCA side it has also involved extensive preparation for major new regulatory responsibilities – in particular, the competition objective that the FCA was given on 1 April 2013, and the responsibility for consumer credit regulation which it will assume during 2014.
This year’s Annual Report therefore begins with a section on the regulatory reform process. Organisational change, however desirable, is always potentially disruptive – it can too easily divert attention from business-as-usual challenges and risks. It is therefore greatly to the credit of the organisation that we delivered the structural change smoothly, while continuing to meet major external challenges.