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FCA’s Bailey: ‘I don’t want to work in a place full of people like me’

The FCA’s chief executive has stressed the importance of having strong gender and ethnic diversity among the regulator’s own workforce

FCA’s Bailey: ‘I don’t want to work in a place full of people like me’

‘I don’t want to work in a place full of people like me,’ the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Andrew Bailey, has said.

Speaking yesterday at the Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association (Pimfa) conference, Bailey emphasised the importance of diversity to the regulator’s own workforce, as well as the financial services profession. 

Addressing the FCA as an employer, Bailey (pictured) said, although the regulator’s gender pay gap has actually increased by 0.3%, it has set targets for gender as well as black, Asian, and minority ethnic (Bame) diversity, and is focusing on mentoring and apprenticeships.

‘We actually learn from the things you are doing in your firms,’ he said.

The FCA’s gender pay gap rose from 20.9% in 2017 to 21.2% last year. The regulator is aiming to have 8% of senior leaders identifying as Bame by 2020 and 13% by 2025, currently the number is 5%. 

‘Diversity is a core part of how we look at the culture in a firm,’ he said.

‘It is core to how I and my colleagues look at the FCA, because we are on the journey too. I read the occasional comment that the FCA should not pronounce on culture unless it is measured as perfect, or words to that effect.

‘No one is perfect, we are all seeking to learn and improve.’

He added diversity can help companies commercially by providing different perspectives.

‘I always say I don’t want to work in a place full of people like me. Diversity and inclusion help to mitigate the risk of groupthink. They provide an opportunity for competitive advantage to organisations by helping them to make better decisions and to think in the long term.’

Bailey said, although part of the FCA’s role is to monitor the culture of firms, and ‘culture and governance of firms is a priority’, he added ‘there is no one-size-fits-all solution’ to culture.

He highlighted the senior managers and certification regime (SMCR), due to roll out to many advice firms by the end of this year, as something that will help shape the culture of firms.

‘If we know one thing it is that social norms [that form the framework within which firms operate] don’t stand still,’ he added.

Examples of these moving social norms, according to Bailey, include: a shift in responsibility for finance to the individual away from government and other bodies; a greater concern for the different challenges of vulnerable individuals; and the link between finance and the environment.

'So for any institution like all of ours to hope to meet these objectives, to rise to these challenges we need a sustainable purpose, a mission if you like,' he said. 

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