Dancing in the street? Perhaps not? Ready for a brand new beat? Well, maybe. Songs often pop into my head and as I started writing this I only had to think of the words “summer’s here” and off I went. Actually, there’s an interesting analogy with that famous song which I will draw on later in the context of the LSB but… back to the brand new beat; let me elaborate. These are exciting times at the LSB – we have been gradually increasing our remit, extending it significantly into the SME space and moving it beyond consumer credit in the personal space. Many of you will have seen the extension of product scope for the business Standards, while we are also overseeing the application of the Access to Banking (branch closure) Standard. But we have more extensive plans than just these…

As I take stock before the madness of autumn and spring, when it becomes impossible to draw breath, I figured I’d share with you a few, what I hope, are interesting thoughts on our plans, some exciting developments and, for those of you thinking about it, why now is a good time to become a registered firm.

In terms of our oversight we are particularly busy right now: we are part way through the work assessing how lenders have embedded the vulnerability taskforce principles launched in Feb 2016; we are drawing together the results of a vulnerability mystery shop exercise involving 20 of our firms, the results of which we will announce in October; we will be publishing the first summary report on access to banking in September; and our first SME thematic review is about to start, focusing on financial difficulty.

On policy we have been focused on 3 areas:

  • Inputting to FCA consultations;
  • Drawing together the responses and drafting our thoughts following the consultation on the personal Standards; and
  • Planning the next stage of the SME Standards, which will be focused on the principles for larger businesses and how businesses in difficulty are treated.

I mentioned trust, collaboration and fairness as our three key messages when I wrote a blog in July. The oversight work hits the fairness agenda, while our policy work focuses very much on the ‘rebuilding trust in the industry’ mission. On the latter, you will hear more of our thoughts on the future of the personal and business Standards when we host our roadshows in October/November – we’re likely to be in Belfast, Edinburgh, Manchester and London.

Exciting developments? There are a few in the pipeline but I’d like to highlight three.

Firstly, we are developing our insight and support offering and more details will be announced shortly but expect partnering to feature strongly – collaboration being the watchword here – just as it was when we launched our recent report into SME and vulnerability with the Money Advice Trust (MAT). As promised we have a series of events to follow up on the latter, the first of which will be a roundtable for firms on 20 September, followed by joint hosting of roundtables with MAT at the party conferences – Labour (24 Sept) and Conservative (1 Oct) –  and a wider stakeholder forum in October/November.

Secondly, we are delighted to welcome our first fintech as a registered firm – Account Technologies – and we hope to be able to announce in the autumn a first for the LSB as we make a bold step forward into the fintech space, which will have significant benefits for our existing registered firms.

Thirdly, we are looking to help the industry get on the front foot by identifying areas where self-regulation supported with independent oversight can provide a viable strategy in demonstrating an effective response to emerging risks and issues. How will we arrive at these areas? Well, this is going to be a combination of self-generated ideas based on our knowledge of the industry, working with UK Finance and other stakeholders, and, of course, listening to firms. On this point we have had productive discussions externally with a couple of organisations and we will be seeking to trial an emerging risk forum in October. We’ll keep you posted on how this develops.

So, if you’re reading this and thinking, “I’d like to know more about being a registered firm and to understand the benefits of registration”, we have pulled together a summary of the benefits of becoming a registered firm, not to mention the opportunity to be involved and see the benefits from some of the work I’ve referred to in this blog. What we think is the added value that the LSB can offer a registered firm can be found by clicking on this link to  the added value of LSB registration

Ah I mentioned the analogy earlier, didn’t I? Did you know that the song has been released several times, originally by Martha and the Vandellas, but most of you will probably remember the Bowie/Jagger version in the 1980s, my point being that things move on and often where something begins is not always where it ends up even though the core is still the same. I feel that is where the LSB has taken self-regulation. True to its principles – building trust in the industry, collaborating with stakeholders and helping firms deliver fair outcomes – but moving the game on, maintaining relevance by expanding into new areas to enable us to continue to add value.

Enjoy what’s left of the summer and drop me a line if you’re interested in discussing any of the above topics, or want to attend one of our events or you want to put another song in my head…

 

Dave Pickering