500 days of tumbleweed — why is the FCA ignoring small businesses?
It has now been 500 days since the consultation period closed on 18 March 2016 for FCA Discussion Paper DP15/7 “Our approach to SMEs as users of financial services.”
At present, the provision of financial services to small businesses in the UK is largely unregulated. In many cases, firms can’t even appeal to an ombudsman if they have been poorly treated.
According to the FCA’s own web page, no public update has been published by the FCA on this issue since their review was launched on the 27 November 2015. The review is not mentioned in the FCA Business Plan for 2017/18.
This delay suggests a total disregard for those that responded to the FCA’s initial call for input as part of a consultation process, and undermines the relationship the FCA has with its stakeholders.
Furthermore, the lack of responsiveness exhibits an indifference on the part of the FCA to the plight of millions of small businesses in the UK who continue to operate without suitable supervision and regulation of the financial services industry that are crucial to their success.
I find this inexcusable following the mis-selling of interest rate hedging products to small businesses and the ongoing scandal that surrounds widespread fraud at HBOS Reading that caused several sizeable businesses to fold.
What is the FCA waiting for — another huge scandal? While the FCA is rightly praised for its innovative stance, overlooking such a large constituency suggests it can’t get the basics right. SMEs are suffering now and this inaction is stifling UK economic progress.
The FCA must be held to account.