Linda Woodall, the head of investment intermediaries at the Financial Services Authority (FSA), tells Nicola Brittain about the future of regulation, and reflects on Hector Sants's infamous "be frightened" speech.
Reader comments left under online stories about the Financial Services Authority (FSA) are rarely flattering. They regularly accuse the regulator of being ‘out of touch’, ‘bureaucratic’ or something altogether less printable.
But face-to-face, Linda Woodall, head of investment intermediaries at the FSA, conveys the opposite impression. Instead of out-of-touch, she seems communicative; rather than bureaucratic, she seems practical and down to earth.
Woodall has been supervising intermediaries for the FSA for four years now, and says that she intends to stick around but that the organisation and its approach to advisers was going through a significant period of change.
Nicola Brittain interviews the FSA's head of investment intermediaries
She acknowledges that Hector Sants had a distinctly confrontational attitude and laughs when I ask for a comment on his now notorious “be very afraid” speech.
“You have to remember the context,” she says. “The financial crisis was at its height at that time in 2009 and we’d just seen the meltdown of the banking sector. Although we’re not out of the woods yet, things have moved on. Our tone has certainly changed.”
She gives a recent letter written by the new chief executive of the FSA, Martin Wheatley, to Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, as an example.
The letter, sent a fortnight or so ago, emphasised the hard work advisers had done to meet the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) implementation deadline and stated the regulator, while maintaining “the standards required to protect consumers”, would be more “proportionate” in its approach to regulation in the future.
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