Monday, 23 March 2015

8 Financial Services Policy Requests - Election Edition

If you've been lumped with the job of writing your party's General Election Manifesto, here are 8 financial policies to simply drag and drop:

1. Remove the need for FCA credit-broking authorisation just to introduce borrowers whose finance arrangements will be 'exempt agreements' anyway - it makes no sense at all;

2. Remove the need for businesses who lend to consumers or small businesses on peer-to-peer lending platforms to be authorised by the FCA - again, it makes no sense, because the platform operator already has the responsibility to ensure the borrower gets the right documentation and so on; an alternative would be to allow such lenders to go through a quick and simple registration process;

3. Remove the requirement for individuals who wish to invest on crowd-investment platforms to certify that they are only investing 10% of their 'net investible portfolio' and to either pass an 'appropriateness test' or are receiving advice - it's a disproportionately complex series of hoops compared to the simplicity of the investment opportunities and the typical amounts at stake;

4. Focus on the issues raised in this submission to the Competition and Markets Authority on competition in retail banking, particularly around encouraging a more diverse range of financial business models;

5. Re-classify P2P loans as a standard pension product, rather than a non-standard product - the administrative burden related to non-standard products is disproportionately high for such a simple instrument as a loan;

6.  Reduce the processing time for EIS/SEIS approvals to 2 to 3 weeks, rather than months - investors won't wait forever;

7.  Reduce the approval time for FCA authorisation for FinTech businesses from 6 months to 6 weeks; alternatively, introduce a 'small firms registration' option with a process for moving to full authorisation over time, so that firms can begin trading within 6 weeks of application, rather than having to spend 3 months fully documenting their business plans, only to then wait 6 to 12 months before being able to trade - others entrepreneurs and investors will stop entering this space;

8. Proportionately regulate invoice discounting to confirm the basis on which multiple ordinary retail investors can fund the discounting of a single invoice - it's a rapidly growing source of SME funding, simple for investors to understand and their money is only at risk for short periods of time.

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