| LONDON, April 18
LONDON, April 18 Access to European Union
markets and people after Britain leaves the bloc is essential
for maintaining healthy competition in financial services, the
country's markets watchdog said on Tuesday.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) set out the key
principles for advising the government on EU withdrawal
negotiations in its annual business plan for next year, with
handling uncertainties surrounding Brexit a top priority.
"Open markets are an important enabler of healthy
competition, supporting FCA objectives," the watchdog said.
The regulator said the ability to recruit a diverse
workforce would also help to ensure that markets and firms are
well run and remain competitive - a nod to concerns at banks
that they may no longer be able to recruit freely from EU
countries in future.
Consistent global regulatory standards and cooperation
between national authorities will also be "fundamental
regardless of the outcomes of the negotiations."
The FCA said Britain should also have a say over the rules
it applies. Regulators have said they do not want Britain to
become a "rule taker" in order to obtain EU market access,
meaning they must match the bloc's standards.
It remains unclear if banks and other financial firms in
Britain will have access to EU markets after Brexit. Some
companies have decided to build up operations in the EU rather
than risk disruption to established customer links.
"This lack of clarity will potentially lead to a period of
prolonged uncertainty for markets, firms and consumers," the FCA
The watchdog, funded by levies on the firms it supervises,
said its total requirement for financial the year starting this
month was 526.9 million pounds ($663.26 million), up 1.5 percent
or 7.6 million pounds on the previous year.
The increase is partly due to 2.5 million pounds extra
needed to handle Brexit, the watchdog said.
The FCA also published its new "Mission", a 36-page document
that resets the regulator's core objectives as new chief
executive, Andrew Bailey, seeks to draw a line under a string a
mis-selling scandals spanning more than two decades.
The Mission, in line with a draft version that was put out
to public consultation, seeks to strike a balance between
demands and finite resources, saying that protecting the most
vulnerable customers would be a priority.
"The Mission gives firms and consumers greater clarity about
how and why we prioritise, protect and intervene in financial
markets," Bailey said in a statement.
It is being made clearer, for example, that when a firm or
individual is referred to enforcement, this does not mean that
the watchdog already believes wrongdoing has taken place.
The watchdog also published for the first time documents
that set out its internal thinking on key parts of the financial
It will also launch a strategic review of retail banking
business models in the year ahead, look at the motor finance
industry, review pricing practices in general insurance, assess
"robo" or automated advice models,
($1 = 0.7944 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones. Editing by Jane Merriman)