Insurance in Financial Services UK
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2016 has been another difficult year for the financial sector, with economic and political uncertainty complicating the completion of the post-crisis regulatory repair agenda.
European Commission proposes 12 month PRIIPs Delay, but uncertainty around timing of the legislation means firms should maintain momentum
On 9 November, the European Commission published a legislative proposal to extend the application date of the Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products Regulation (PRIIPs) by one year. PRIIPs requires the disclosure of Key Information Documents (KIDs) when PRIIPs are sold to retail investors. The delay has been widely anticipated by the market and gives manufacturers and distributors of PRIIPs products until 1 January 2018 to put implementation plans in place. The Commission did not amend any other provisions in the Level 1 text. The proposal follows a vote by the EU Parliament on 14 September to reject the EU Commission’s Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on PRIIPs and concerns expressed by 24 Member States in the Council in a vote by the Competitiveness Council of the EU on 20 September (see our blog of 20 September for further detail on the Parliament’s rejection of the RTS).
There has been no shortage of deeply damaging scandals affecting the financial services sector in recent years, all of which can be linked to governance and cultural failings. Andrew Bailey, who recently moved from CEO of PRA to lead the FCA, has on numerous occasions spoken on the importance of corporate culture and has stressed that “the culture of firms…is of the utmost importance to regulatorsi”.
On 28 September the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released a Policy Statement setting out its final rules on regulatory references under the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR). The Policy Statement is relevant for deposit-takers, Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) investment firms, insurers, solvency II insurers and non-directive insurers and will be of particular interest to those individuals who seek regulatory approval to perform a Senior Management Function (SMF); a Significant Insurance Management Function; an FCA controlled function or a Significant Harm Function (SHF).
On 14 September, the EU Parliament voted to reject the EU Commission’s Delegated Regulation on the Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products Regulation (PRIIPs). This is the first time that the EU Parliament has formally rejected technical rules on financial services legislation. The Delegated Regulation, based on the final draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) prepared by the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs), dated 31 March 2016, was rejected as “so flawed and misleading that it could actually lose [retail investors] money”. MEPs overwhelmingly passed the resolution rejecting the RTS (by 602 votes to 4, with 12 abstentions), calling for the EU Commission to submit a new RTS taking into account the EU Parliament’s concerns about the text. The Parliament also called on the EU Commission to postpone the application date of PRIIPs.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its further consultation paper on the future of payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints. CP 16/20 adds further detail to the regulator’s plans to bring the ongoing issues raised by the historic sales of PPI to an orderly close, with a final date for making new complaints now estimated for June 2019.
The Senior Insurance Managers Regime (“SIMR”) is high on the agenda for many insurance companies’ Audit Committees, with directors looking for assurance on whether this key regulation has been successfully implemented and embedded.
Culture in financial services firms has moved towards the top of the agenda for regulators, investors and consumers in the wake of excessive risk-taking by some firms in the run-up to the financial crisis and a string of misconduct scandals. Despite this, there can be a tendency on the part of some in the industry to see culture as “someone else’s problem”. A Deloitte survey on culture in banking carried out in 2013 found that 65% of senior bankers believed there were significant cultural failings across the industry, while only 33% believed the same of their own bank.
The FCA published its 2016-17 Business Plan on 5 April. The document is shorter and less detailed than in previous years, with only a brief Risk Outlook section, and makes limited announcements of new work. This may reflect the fact that the new CEO, Andrew Bailey, will not join the FCA until July, although as a member of the FCA Board, he will already have had an opportunity to influence the Plan. Like last year, the FCA has continued with its magic number of seven priority areas, rolling over five areas and prioritising two new areas – wholesale markets and the provision of advice.