Hector Sants, Chief Executive of the UK banking regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has announced what he describes as a ‘Twin Peaks’ approach to the future of banking regulation in the UK. Speaking at a briefing to the British Bankers’ Association in London on February 6th, he gave an update on the progress of reform in the British financial supervision system.
Don’t get too excited. Mr. Sants didn’t have much to say on the subject of David Lynch’s cult TV drama of the 1980s. There was no mention of Agent Cooper, Diane, the Log Lady, Laura Palmer or even about a damn fine cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie. It was all about the restructuring of bank regulation in the UK and the replacement of the FSA by two new regulatory bodies: hence “Twin Peaks”.
As the British Government set out in its White Paper of June 2011, by early 2013: “the FSA will be abolished, and replaced by two new organisations called the Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, and the Prudential Regulation Authority, or PRA, a subsidiary of the Bank of England”.
These two bodies will create a ‘Twin Peaks’ style regulatory model similar to those already in force in the Netherlands and Australia.
The FSA and The Bank of England are jointly responsible for implementing the government’s plan for reform, but their timetable is based on the assumption that The Financial Services Bill goes through the lengthy British legislative procedure without a hitch.
Although the FSA will no longer exist in its current form, the current staffing level of 4000 will be maintained and the FSA IT system will also be retained.
The Twin Peaks model divides financial supervision into two separate entities responsible for prudential regulation (the PRA) and conduct regulation (the FCA). Nevertheless, regulatory data will only be collected once, and a common data infrastructure will be retained, Mr. Sants assured his audience. Between the two new bodies there will be a system of “independent but coordinated” decision making.
The PRA will concentrate on providing effective resolution mechanisms, and the FCA will focus on consumer protection.
In his concluding remarks Mr. Sants stressed the importance of behavioral and cultural change by both regulators and financial firms in a “new world of judgement-based regulation” which must be embraced by all concerned. I don’t know if Agent Cooper would approve, but I’m off now for a damn fine cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie. Let’s hope there are no fish in the percolator…