The first 100 days of the Financial Conduct Authority have shown that the new regulator is a very different animal to the Financial Services Authority, chief executive Martin Wheatley said today.
Wheatley told the biennial conference of the Association of British Insurers: 'We're not just asking: Is this product compliant? Does it tick every legal box? But actually: is the outcome good? Is the market competitive? And is fair treatment of consumers designed into products and culture?'
On the FCA's hundredth day of operations, Wheatley said he understood why people had reserved judgment before the FCA took over supervision of all regulated financial firms on April 1 this year. The FSA needed to change.
His vision for successful regulation was also a vision of a successful, competitive market. The best firms and products would thrive, with the worst exiting the market.
Wheatley said: 'A market that works well for consumers and for firms will be of benefit to everyone and to the UK economy. We want consumers to be in a position to drive healthy competitive markets so that they become the new normal.'
'And where firms can profit from putting consumer first and where they can't, they exit the market without disrupting its integrity.'
Prompt intervention was essential to make markets work better, he said. 'Regulators need to serve the market better by acting more swiftly. By intervening earlier and more intelligently to avoid crises down the line.
'That process of repair is now underway. Our first 100 days are a marker of what lies ahead.'
Wheatley said the new responsibility for competition was the single most significant change in the regulator's objectives. The FCA would not just wait for problems before trying to promote competition.
The regulator's first market study, now underway, was into insurance add-on products, often sold with purchases such as a holiday, a car or gadgets. Wheatley said: 'We are testing whether poor outcomes in add-on sales could reflect particular consumer behavioural traits and firms' responses to them.'