The new CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has hit back at a think tank report that dubbed the regulator “timid and cowed.”
New City Agenda on Tuesday criticised the FCA and fellow regulators the Bank of England and PRA, accusing the trio of “watering down” key regulation enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, FCA CEO Andrew Bailey said: “I have to say I thought the New City Agenda report was pretty disappointing. It was very rooted in the past. It drags over past history. It’s just raked over the old coals.”
He added, with some anger: “I have to say that in at least one place it was just downright offensive. There was a place where they endorse a quote from somebody describing our staff [as] dobbins. They may think that is funny. It isn’t. It isn’t at all funny.”
The FCA came in for particularly strong criticism from New City Agenda, with the report saying it suffers from “variable quality of staff, excessive box-ticking, a culture of secrecy, a lack of willingness to use new powers granted by Parliament, a lack of clarity about what the regulator was trying to achieve, a lack of independent evaluation, internal silos and poor engagement with small players.”
“Dobbins” is a slang English word for retired work horses from a farm.
Bailey’s comments came at an event to launch the FCA’s new “Mission” — a document commissioned by new CEO Bailey to set out what the FCA aims to achieve and how it goes about it. (You can read more about the Mission here.)
Referencing the timing of the Mission and New City Agenda’s report, he said: “It’s pure coincidence that we produced these two things this week.”
After attacking New City Agenda for dubbing FCA staff “dobbins,” Bailey then went on a light-hearted aside about the meaning of the word. He told journalists: “I remember as a kid it was a word for an old farm horse but I did actually look it up in the Urban Dictionary and apparently it means good looking so maybe that’s what they meant. It’s the only time I’ve looked in the Urban Dictionary I have to confess.”
Bailey, formerly the chief cashier at the Bank of England, was named CEO of the FCA in January and took up the role 4 months ago.