THE Financial Services Authority (FSA) has been criticised for the long delays in its corporate approval process, in a fresh blow to the City regulator.
Companies now wait 19.5 weeks on average for an FSA decision on whether to authorise financial services work, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by City law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC).
Waiting times have increased by 71 per cent in the last year, and have more than doubled since the start of the credit crunch when the average wait was 7.5 weeks.
The news comes at a bad time for the FSA, whose future is under scrutiny by the new government. The chancellor, George Osborne, is said to be keen to hand over many of the FSA’s powers to the Bank of England, but has stopped short of moving to abolish the regulator as part of the coalition agreement.
Jonathan Davies, regulatory partner at RPC, said: “Delays in authorising new entrants into the financial services market damage consumers by reducing competition. They also damage Britain’s competitiveness.
“If the FSA does not have the capacity to process applications properly then it should say so,” he said.
The FSA said in a statement: “We have increased the intensity with which we scrutinise companies. The time scale varies between firms. “We aim to conclude investigations within six months for completed applications, and publish how we perform on our website.”