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FCA rebrand is pointless – just get on with regulating the City

The FCA's board will reportedly meet on 27 June, when regulators will decide on whether to approve the final version of the reform package.
The FCA's board will reportedly meet on 27 June, when regulators will decide on whether to approve the final version of the reform package.

Actions speak louder than words, goes the world’s most famous maxim.

It’s an ethos to be slapped onto most walks of life. Financial regulation though, it seems, is the exception.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has faced a bruising few months being kicked around the City like a political football – too much red tape, say one side, drop the diversity shtick, say another, stop trying to name and shame us, say the firms it regulates.

But rather than reasserting itself and reminding Westminister and the UK’s financial services sector of its value, the watchdog has resorted to spending tens of thousands of pounds on devising a “refreshed brand proposition” and “articulating what we stand for”.

The City knows who regulates it and it is actions not words that will shape the way it is perceived.
The backlash against its name and shame plans didn’t come from a misunderstanding of the regulator’s brand identity, it came from fears over its impact. Warm words towards it changes on listing rules are not a product of the copy in the press release, they’re a reaction to the detail underneath.

No one is expecting splashy brand activations and flash mobs from the same organisation that prosecutes money laundering cases and bans rogue traders from finding another job. The City wants considered and proportionate regulation that promotes business while protecting consumers.

Growth has been near the top of the agenda of this election, and an incoming government is going to pull every leaver it can to achieve it. After coming under fire for a less than enthusiastic embrace of its new objective on growth, you get the sense the FCA should start showing some intent.

It is action – not PR agencies and press releases – which will reshape that perception.

And, you suspect, the City might like to save on the fees as well.