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Cultural Revolution: FCA offers re-education in the provinces

17 October 2014

In a speech at Mansion House last night, Martin Wheatley announced a masters degree in regulation in conjunction with Henley Business School which, he said, will "set the global standard".

There have been previous mutterings about the FCA's Orwellian and Kafkaesque tendencies, however, this latest announcement, against the background of the FCA's demand for a revolution in culture, smacks of Maoism with the FCA offering to re-educate the financial services world to the 'global [read: FCA] standard'.

Many compliance officers and lawyers would probably agree with Mr Wheatley that it does seem these days that one needs a masters degree to understand the labyrinthine FCA Handbook and endless consultation papers, guidance and policy statements. However, the announcement of this course carries the worrying implication that those who have not been on the FCA's course might not be at the right 'global standard'.

Financial services regulation has already passed from the realm of common sense to that of the specialist versed in the levels of the Lamfalussy process, and the FCA seems keen to add another economic angle with the regulator's new focus on behavioural economics (I noted Mr Wheatley's ode to Jean Tirole, a regulatory economist and the latest Nobel Prize-winner, in his speech). This might just about make sense for the regulation of systemically important insurers and for the regulation of markets, but when the expectation becomes that smaller firms should have personnel with such a regulatory qualification the price of compliance staff will skyrocket.

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