Saturday, 5 March 2011

Credit Where It's Due

The long overdue move to regulate consumer credit the same way as other financial services has finally been announced.

I've been advising businesses on both sides of the strange divide between the Consumer Credit Act and the Financial Services and Markets Act regimes for the past decade, and I still find the dichotomy as maddening as when I first laid eyes on it.

Gold-plating the Consumer Credit Directive hasn't helped improve the cost and complexity, and transparency is not improved by obliging a provider to register under both the CCA and FSMA regimes for products that are part of the same sales process. Or by allowing banking groups to present themselves as "authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority", while in fact sheltering their consumer lending activities under an obscure self-regulatory regime. It defies belief that the banks' consumer lending processes should operate any better than those that have earned them big fines in recent months.

But perhaps the most interesting point, in these troubled financial times, is that the government department that's presided over the CCA regime estimates that we'll save a net £120m annually by repealing it.

Image from Midnight Poutine.
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