FCA declines to say if pension freedoms were a ‘mistake’

Hannah Godfrey reports

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) declined to answer whether it believed the introduction of pension freedoms was a mistake that has led to greater opportunities for pension scammers.

At the FCA’s annual public meeting on Thursday morning (24 September), the regulator side-stepped a question on whether it believed the introduction of pension freedoms was a mistake.

FCA interim executive director of strategy and competition Sheldon Mills, who was called upon to answer the question, said such a question was “a policy question that we would direct to government”.

He said the FCA’s focus remained on “ensuring consumers are protected”.

Then, FCA chair Charles Randell, who was chairing the meeting, interjected, stating the way in which pension freedoms were introduced leaves “a lot of lessons to be learned”, including lessons about government and regulators working together, and the speed at which new legislation is introduced.

The chair said things could have been done “differently and better”.

The regulator previously said the 2015 pension freedoms, announced by then-Chancellor George Osborne in March 2014, were a driver of consumer harm.

FSCS levy

Elsewhere, a question was asked about the rising Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy. To this, Mills said the FCA recognised the “significant increase” in the levy, and that the number of “bad actors” needed to be reduced.