June 16 – In the FCA Box

The FCA Occasional Paper number 17 on Access to Financial Services lets us see what much of our fees are being spent on.  This 160 page tour of digital, financial crime, segmentation and ageing allows us a lesson on the intellectual property of our regulator.

It looks easy living in the FCA box, with the ability to opine on a fairly detached way on the issues that traverse our market caused by the conflicts between regulatory intervention, an ageing population and the socio demographic changes that are challenging most of the accepted norms.  Asking lots of questions appears to be their solution.

However the paper erroneously cites visiting a branch for a mortgage as the preferred consumer channel.  It also provides copious evidence of lenders not being very helpful to a range of eligible consumers.  Facts conveniently missed in the post MMR affordability review.

It is clear that mortgages are long term commitments that need to be affordable.  We are agreed on that, but the paper seems to ignore that all tenures have a cost.  The alternative of renting is likely to bring an ever escalation of cost with no equity buffer.   It also provides no certainty of a roof.

The paper floats the need for holistic advice, without addressing the barriers, which have mainly been constructed in the old FSA rules.  I like people to go away and think but this needs less fence sitting and more planned solutions.