Friday 21 June 2019 1:10 am

Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan blasts FCA over consumer access to financial services

Treasury committee chair Nicky Morgan criticised the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) today for “lacking in desire” to improve consumer access to financial services.

The Treasury Committee made a series of recommendations of how consumer access to financial services could be improved in a report published last month.

These included a requirement that firms act in customers’ best interests, the preservation of bank branches and free-to-use cash machines and enforcement of banks’ compliance with the equality act being moved to the FCA.

Morgan slammed the FCA’s response to the report and suggested the City watchdog “have another go” at replying.

“The vast majority of the FCA’s reply to our recommendations appears to be a holding response or lacking in desire to effect any change.

“For example, we recommended that in addition to the EHRC, the FCA should be given responsibility for the enforcement of the Equality Act. Yet the FCA said that it does not have the expertise as a financial services regulator to carry out enforcement,” she said.

The FCA said “ensuring compliance with the quality act is generally beyond our expertise as a financial services regulator.”

Morgan said: “Why could the FCA not acquire the expertise required to ensure that the Equality Act is enforced and protect vulnerable consumers?”

In connection with the closure of bank branches and fee cash machines, FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey acknowledged that “cash remains a crucial means of payment for many”.

It said it was working across government in relation to cash access and said the group “will announce in due course their proposed work plans and how they plan to coordinate in this area”.

In connection to the Committee’s duty of care recommendation, Bailey said: “It is clear there is a strong desire to see us strengthen our principles and us them to much more real effect.”

And said: “There is a good case for enhancing the standing and practical impact of our principles, rather than just writing more rules.”

Morgan said: “The FCA should have another go at responding to our report and approach our recommendations with a far more inquisitive and curious attitude.”