Today sees not one but two major papers from our financial regulators. The FCA will publish its final version of the Asset Management Market Study, the Pensions Regulator publishes its report into what happened at BHS.
It’s thoughtless of them to publish on the first day of Henley and I will not be able to scrutinise either report as I navigate our way up and down the regatta course on Lady Lucy.
My thoughts on both papers are in line with my thinking colleagues, notably Con Keating , Hilary Salt and the high-flying radicals of the Labour party think-tank.
Indeed were it not for Colin Meech and Chris Sier, much of what we now categorise as “transparency” would not be on the Regulator’s table. Cunningham has as good a policy team as the Government (and a good deal more articulate!).
Beware Regulators after power and money!
Speaking with Con at yesterday’s #PBUK conference (a piss up in the Brewery), I understand it is his intention to bring down the Government if it tries to give the Pensions Regulator any further powers.
I am not in favour of them getting further powers either, I want them to use what they’ve got wisely, which genuinely they do. You would not have thought this if you’d listened to the male, pale, grey and stale panel tear into tPR for its perceived political bias, its heavy handed authoritarianism and its feeble attempts to persuade HMRC to iron out the net-pay problem.
Robin Ellison, who had a particularly pointy stick, has clearly been riled. I do not want to impose on private grief but I understand he has good reason to feel aggrieved, nonetheless – his outbursts were intemperate and amusing in equal measure. Thank Goodness for grumpy old men.
The more specific issue relating to the alleged feebleness of the Pension Regulator over the BHS deficit is hard for me to get my head round. The £350m extracted from Green to make good part of the deficit is well in excess of reasonable reparation (Con reckons the non-penal amount should have been half). The reparation payment was extracted under “soft pressure” (e.g. threats to Philip Green’s knighthood and remaining businesses). The one thing we can be proud of is that the PPF worked and absorbed the scheme. BHS pensioners are being paid and though future pensioners won’t get as much, we are a long way from the dark days of ASW.
Whatever the Pensions Regulator’s report says, I hope it won’t use BHS to leverage more powers, It has recently had a cash injection of £3.7m and is after another £12m, it is not a bloated Regulator (like the FCA) but attempts at expansionism should be resisted.
While I won’t be joining Con in lighting a fire under the Government, I support his contention that the Pensions Regulator is fine as it is.
Morning after the night before?
Which is more than can be said for the asset management industry and their bosom buddies the investment consultants.
Last night there was what I hope is a “last” supper, for the miscreants , at the Chiswell Brewery. For the God knows how many a time this year, asset managers and consultants had the opportunity to splash out largesse on their clients and get thoroughly pissed up at an Awards Ceremony.
Let’s hope this morning that their hangover does not deafen them to the home truths of the FCA’s Asset Management Market Study. Every drink last night came out of the absurd fees levied on ordinary people. When the inevitable photos of inebriated buffoonery disappear from Facebook and Twitter, the hard reality should set in. We cannot go on pissing our client’s money away as we are doing at the moment.
On which happy note, I will leave you. It is 8am and soon my first guests will arrive for a sociable day on the river. There are ways of having fun which don’t touch the customer’s purse and the five days Lady Lucy will spend at Henley is one of them!