The FSA today says it could increase the amount of information about firms it discloses to the public in a discussion paper on improving regulatory transparency.
The regulator says it hopes to create a framework for determining what further information it might publish about firms and sectors and is inviting industry comment on the issue via a discussion paper.
It says it recognises the importance of transparency and believes increasing the amount of firm-specific and broader industry information it discloses could lead to better regulatory outcomes for firms, markets and consumers.
However, it also recognises stakeholders hold “strong and often polarised” views on transparency.
Hector Sants, chief executive of the FSA, says: “We believe that transparency is an important regulatory tool, and as an organisation are committed to being open and transparent.
“The discussion paper seeks to initiate debate on how we can better utilise transparency to achieve our regulatory aims, and in particular proposes a code of practice.”
In its paper, the FSA sets out a code of practice which would provide a “transparent mechanism” for guiding FSA decisions about what additional information it might disclose.
It also provides examples of the types of information the regulator may consider publishing. For instance, with regard to complaints, the FSA proposes publishing more information about the performance of individual firms.
It says the differences in performance between firms can be significant. It points to the statistics for the 28 firms with the largest number of complaints, saying the results range from 1% to 66% of complaints closed after eight weeks, and between 3% and 76% of customer complaints upheld by the firm.
“There may of course be justifiable reasons for these variations, but the analysis and discussion cannot begin until the figures are available,” the paper reads.
The FSA says the discussion paper draws a clear distinction between simply making information available, which could in some cases cause confusion and have a negative impact, and publishing information in a way that makes issues and practices clearer and therefore improves how markets function.
The FSA currently publishes a wide range of material about its activities and proposals, markets and sectors, and about the disciplinary action it takes against individuals and firms. It also publishes a wide range of consumer-facing material, such as fact sheets and comparative tables.
Respondents have until 29 August to let the FSA know their views.
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