In what I presume was a light-hearted dig at my constant refrain that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has too few checks and balances to its exercise of statutory powers, a contact of mine sent me this Financial Times article.
In asking me whether it was 'music to my jaded ears', he was sure that the answer would be a resounding 'yes', so that he could giggle and roll his eyes.
I do hate to disappoint him, I am not giggling because, while the answer most definitely starts with 'yes', it goes on 'but...'.
If we need to have a faster-moving regulator and more flexible (yet also consistent) rules but should only have those with greater oversight over that regulator, but no one can agree on how or by whom that oversight is put in place, we are doomed to a less and less accountable regulatory system or to a less and less suitable, slower-moving regulatory system - unless we go back to the days where Adam Smith's invisible hand governed financial markets participants.
As always, I come to you with a solution (of sorts).
My solution is that there is a much clearer distinction drawn between 'retail' and 'wholesale' business and while the former are more regulated, the latter less so. It has been another refrain of mine in recent years that all regulators blur the distinction between the two - applying 'retail protection' rules to wholesale markets participants - so (to my mind at least) if regulators' focus is on retail anyway, let them focus on that properly.
Once you’ve handed over vast rulemaking powers to regulators, who are under political pressure to reform at speed, the question then is how you scrutinise their work and hold them to account. The basic answer: better than now.