On February 4, Britain’s HM Treasury introduced legislation—entitled the Banking Reform Bill—that would provide regulators with new authority to break up a bank if its investment activities put deposits at risk. The legislation goes a step beyond previously proposed policies that would merely require banks to separate retail banking from investment banking. Under the proposed legislation, in addition to requiring that institutions ring-fence deposits, the Bank of England could force an institution to sell off certain businesses if it determines that the institution has failed to protect retail banking activities from high-risk investments. The bill also would, among other things, provide depositors preference if a bank becomes insolvent, and set new leverage caps. The introduction of the bill is the first step in the legislative process, which Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer stated he expects to be finalized next year.
On March 6, the U.K. Financial Services Authority (FSA) issued a consultation paper (CP) to outline the regulatory regime for consumer credit markets after its regulatory powers transfer to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA is a new regulatory body that will succeed the FSA later this year, and will assume regulatory responsibility over the U.K.’s consumer credit and retail markets regulatory responsibilities. In addition to those markets, the FCA also will regulate conduct in wholesale markets, supervise the trading infrastructure that supports retail and wholesale markets, and prudentially regulate firms not regulated by the new Prudential Regulatory Authority. The CP outlines (i) the supervision of and reporting by covered firms, (ii) the interim permission for OFT license holders to continue operations, (iii) the supervision of credit advertising being subject to the Financial Services and Markets Act financial promotions regime, (iv) prudential requirements for debt management firms, (v) the Consumer Credit Act provisions that survive under the new FCA credit regime, and (vi) the sources of funding for the regime. Comments on the proposal are due by May 1, 2013.
On September 12, in advance of expected legislation that will restructure the United Kingdom’s financial services regulatory framework, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) published the first in a series of Consultation Papers meant to support implementation of the reforms. The Parliament is expected to finalize later this year the Financial Services Bill that will abolish the FSA, create the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to regulate financial service provider conduct in retail and wholesale markets, and shift safety and soundness regulation to the new Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), among other changes. The first Consultation Paper outlines changes to split the existing FSA handbook into new rulebooks for the FCA and PRA. All regulated firms are encouraged to review the Consultation Paper, and the FSA has asked for comments to be submitted by December 12, 2012.