Central Bank says firms must ‘set the right standards’
The stockbroker Davy need only look in the mirror when it asks itself how things went so catastrophically wrong, the Director General of Financial Conduct at the Central Bank has said.
Derville Rowland also told the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland Membership Forum virtual event that consumer and investor protection begins with firms themselves.
“Firms are responsible for selling their customers products that meet their needs both now and into the future,” Ms Rowland claimed.
“Firms must have effective cultures and set the right standards.”
She added that many firms meet those standards and put their expertise to good use for their customers, but others don’t.
“And where misconduct arises, the Central Bank will take action with the aim of ensuring that the best interests of consumers and investors are protected and that markets operate in a fair, orderly and transparent manner,” she warned.
The regulator said the Central Bank’s recent enforcement investigation, reprimand and €14.1m fine of Davy, had sparked “very serious consequences for the firm”.
It found that Davy had breached a number of regulations in a 2014 transaction where a client sold a bond to a buyer, without being told that the purchaser was a consortium of 16 Davy staff.
“When the firm asks itself how things went so catastrophically wrong, it need only look in the mirror,” she stated.
Although she added that she was mindful that the bank’s investigation was into a transaction “carried out by a small number of individuals within the firm, not all staff.”
Ms Rowland also outlined the Central Bank’s priorities for consumers and investors, including a review of the Consumer Protection Code, a focus on insurance issues including differential pricing and business interruption cover, as well as distressed debt.
“Distressed debt remains a key priority for the Central Bank, and our focus is to ensure lenders have suitable supports in place to help borrowers in arrears,” she told the online audience.
“We are supervising lenders to ensure they have appropriate strategies, the necessary financial and operational resources, and a suite of appropriate and sustainable solutions to resolve distressed debt.”
Ms Rowland highlighted that consultation on enhancements to the Standard Financial Statement (SFS), used to assess the means of borrowers in financial difficulty, has opened.
Feedback from borrower representatives showed that some borrowers find it to be a challenging document to complete, she said, and the suggested changes aim to improve borrower understanding and facilitate completion of the SFS, as well as to reduce the information a borrower is required to provide in certain sections.
She also referenced the Central Bank’s focus this year on managing liquidity risk in funds during periods of market volatility as well as strengthening policy in capital markets union and sustainable finance.
Work will also continue this year on strengthening resilience within the system and at firm-level, she added, as well as addressing vulnerabilities and risks that give rise to potential stability concerns and enhancing organisational capability to deal with systemic threats such as climate change and cyber-security.