Ministers to Take Control of Appointment of Commissioner for Investigating Complaints Against City and Banking Watchdogs
The Treasury is set to take control of the appointment of a senior figure responsible for investigating complaints against the UK’s financial watchdogs. This move comes amid frustration within the government over regulators’ focus on promoting economic competitiveness. Previously, the appointment of the Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner was overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) themselves. However, ministers will now be responsible for selecting the next commissioner.
Sources have revealed that the role is expected to be advertised as early as this week, following the announcement that the current commissioner, Amerdeep Somal, will step down when her first three-year term expires in November. Ms. Somal will assume the position of chair of the Law Society at the beginning of next year.
The decision to shift the responsibility for the appointment is significant, given the political tensions between the Treasury and the City and banking regulators. These tensions have been escalating over the past year, with the recent controversy surrounding Nigel Farage’s Coutts accounts being a prime example.
Concerns Over Financial Regulator’s Emphasis on Diversity
Senior Conservative MPs, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith, have called for an investigation into the FCA, questioning whether its emphasis on diversity in financial institutions has led to a clampdown on customers with differing views. The FCA has denied that its approach is responsible for fueling a culture in banking that has prompted the debanking furore.
Andrew Griffith, the City minister, is expected to write a foreword to the job advertisement, highlighting the importance of the Complaints Commissioner in providing robust and independent scrutiny of the financial services regulators. He will emphasize that the independence of the position will be significantly enhanced by the fact that the new commissioner will be appointed by the government rather than the regulators themselves. Additionally, new reporting requirements will ensure greater transparency in how the regulators respond to the commissioner’s recommendations.
“Our financial services regulators play an important role in regulating and supervising the financial services industry, and their ability to act robustly is important to millions of consumers and businesses across the country,” Mr. Griffith will state. “However, it is important that this is balanced against the need to hold the regulators accountable for their actions.”
The Complaints Commissioner dealt with over 420 cases last year and made numerous recommendations. The commissioner is also responsible for investigating complaints against the Payment Systems Regulator.