The watchdog should get on the front foot over Woodford

Tomorrow's Business

A lesson here from the Financial Conduct Authority in how to do yourselves no favours.

The regulator is getting terrible press of late for its perceived failures in the handling of dubious affairs at London Capital Finance, Woodford Investment Management and RBS/GRG.

Alex Brummer’s column in today’s Daily Mail headlined “Bungling haunts the FCA” is blunt and fairly typical.

Last night they had a chance to change the story a bit by releasing a letter about the Woodford issue from its chief executive Andrew Bailey to Nicky Morgan MP.

Granted, it wasn’t a press release. But it was released to the press, which is the same difference.

To say it’s windy does a disservice to hot air. Bailey bangs on for more than 4000 words, many of which might be necessary for context, but some of which treat the reader as if she were a slow-witted pupil behind on her studies.

There’s a bunch of stuff about why the fund management sector is important – an answer to a question Morgan didn’t ask – before we get anywhere close to the meat of the matter at hand.

Five bullet points showing that the FCA gets the importance of the issue and is taking action, with the windy stuff to follow, would have been miles better.

In its very last paragraph the letter reveals/confirms that the FCA has opened an investigation into Woodford.

If that had been the first paragraph, it would at least have looked like the FCA is on the front foot, rather than perpetually ducking bouncers.

The pity of it is that the FCA press office itself is pretty good. This was an opportunity missed by someone.

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