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FCA General Insurance Conference ABI summary

The ABI attended the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) first general insurance conference held in London on June 2, 2014.

Keynote speakers included: Martin Wheatley, CEO, FCA; Clive Adamson, Director of Supervisio, FCA; Chris Woolard, Director of Policy, Risk & Research, FCA; and Manuela Zweimuller, Head of Regulations, EIOPA. 
Clive Adamson opened the conference and outlined the need for the industry to operate at the highest standard of integrity, to be built around the interests of customers, to deliver products and services that meet customers’ needs, and to be competitive. He emphasised that the FCA was pre-emptive and prepared to be tough when things go wrong. Reflecting on the past year, he said the FCA had shone a light on different aspects of the customer journey and acknowledged that while the industry was heading in the right direction, there was more work to be done. The FCA had listened to feedback from industry that the regulator is doing too much, and would ensure that work is properly structured and that departments talk to each other within the FCA. He said the FCA would be looking at different types of customers and market structures over the next year through thematic work and market studies outlined in their business plan.

Martin Wheatley followed this up by speaking about the FCA's new project launched last week - Project Innovate. The key objective of the programme is to make sure positive technological developments are supported by the regulatory environment. The FCA want to encourage innovation in the sector and support firms who are developing innovative approaches that aren't explicitly addressed by current regulation. He recognised that the industry had started to move from a compliance based approach with TCF included in board minutes as an afterthought, to a position of genuine integrity at the heart of firms’ business models. Mr Wheatley also commended the industry for the contribution it makes to people’s everyday lives, highlighting Flood Re and the industry’s response to this winter’s flooding as examples.

Chris Woolard focused on the FCA's competition remit outlining that competition was pro-consumer as it drove innovation, quality, service and price of products all of which are good for consumers. He explained that the FCA would use their full toolkit to promote this remit and would work closely with the Competition and Markets Authority. The add-ons market study demonstrated that access to information is essential, and the FCA had started to use behavioural economics to look at how consumers make decisions based on the information provided. This approach would also be used to determine whether proposed remedies would be likely to have their intended effect. Work on value measures does not mean the FCA has an interest in regulating prices, and there was recognition that customers buy GI products differently to other purchases – for peace-of-mind. Loss ratios do not provide a perfect value measure and would need to be contextualised, but can provide increased transparency in the way a market works.

Various breakout sessions were held during the day, the first session focusing on conduct regulation issues. Panellists discussed their views on the direction of travel for the industry; how the regulatory framework (domestic, EU and global) impacted the sector; and the FCA’s key areas of focus. There were also sessions looking at broker conduct, retail conduct and wholesale markets where themes of looking to the future and the changing shape of the market were discussed. Huw Evans, director of policy and deputy director general at the ABI, spoke at the retail breakout where he offered his perspective on what will define the future of the insurance market and future consumers’ expectations. While he said customers and investors will ultimately shape the future of the market, he emphasised that politicians and regulators had also an important role to play in working on evidence-based regulation when necessary.

The day concluded with a keynote speech from Manuela Zweimuller. She discussed EIOPA's work on consumer protection including product oversight, governance, and distribution issues including IMD2. Dr Zweimuller was particularly interested in the work the FCA had carried out on price comparison websites, and brokers’ conflicts of interest.

The videos of conference sessions can be viewed on the FCA website.

Last updated 01/07/2016