/ Money

The Which? watchdog embarks on an adventure

We launched our Watchdog not Lapdog campaign because we want the new financial regulator to work for people, not the banks. We took to the streets to find out what you want from the new watchdog.

We think it’s vital that the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is given the powers it needs to be strong and proactive where the Financial Services Authority (FSA) was not. For example, if given the power to ban financial products, the FCA will be able to react much faster and much harder to any complaints it receives.

It’s one thing for a consumer organisation like Which? to say that there’s a problem but, if we want politicians to sit up and take notice, we need to show them that these issues seriously affect our lives.

On Which? Conversations, you’ve been sharing your thoughts on the new FCA. Michael Kovari said:

‘The Bill should make it possible for the FCA to ban all inertia selling practices in financial services. These include: mortgages with rates that are discounted for a limited time, credit card rates that are lower for balance transfers than for new purchases…and bank accounts that can be opened easily but are more difficult to close’

Harry thinks that:

‘So far as savings are concerned, the FCA urgently needs regulations to ensure that each bank gives the same set of interest rates to *all* its savers, no matter whether their account has been open a day, a month, a year or 30 years.’

So, to mark the entry of the Financial Services Bill (which will confirm the final setup of the new FCA) to the House of Lords today, we took to the streets of London to ask consumers what they wanted to see from the new financial watchdog.

Its bite should be worse than its bark

The people we met on the streets all said they wanted the new regulator to work harder for them, and to succeed where the FSA let them down. Some of them were among the two million people mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and agreed that a strong, open and proactive regulator would help them to rebuild their trust in their banks.

Help us show government that the new FCA simply must work harder for consumers by sharing your thoughts with us. What would you like to see from the new financial watchdog? Has your bank ever let you down, or have you been sold any financial products you didn’t need?

Suresh says:
11 June 2012

I would like to see the FCA have the power to give out massive fines and unilaterally shut down corporations if they do not abide by the regulations, not just to tickle them in pillow fights like the FSA did (and other regulators like Ofcom do).

Good suggestion Suresh – the FCA will be able to issue fines as the FSA can now, but we’d like to see more proportionate fines that serve as a real disincentive for financial bodies.

Any customer of a bank should be deemed as not wanting an automatic credit increase and wanting to get marketing material unless they request it and that doesn’t mean the banks should keep asking do “you want” at every opportunity they get.

To date, we all know banks were mostly in the wrong with PPI selling, yet why are those who are basically the victims of this practice left to claim back the money. I’d like to see the watchdog force banks et al to give bank the money without people needing to claim it back, and if that means having to spend extra money in tracking down their victims, tough.

Hi William,

In an ideal world, we’d be happy if banks could make the first move toward compensating mis-sold consumers – but the problem is, it’s very difficult to tell if a customer has been mis-sold to from their records.

However, we’ve been working closely with the banks to make sure their claims processes are straightforward, and to make consumers more aware of exploitative claims management companies.


Hi Jennifer, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. As in my opinion if the banks have to pay out even to those who knowing wanted/needed PPI then tough. They really shouldn’t have been so underhand and dishonest, and hopefully my method will make them think long and hard about doing it again.

On a side note, any idea if any of the PPI claims companies are in fact owned by a bank or two ? Now that wouldn’t surprise me.

One other thought on this, the fact that the banks et al have already put aside millions/billions in readiness for paying out. Are they just guessing ? Or do they really have some sort of idea as to the scale of the mis-selling ?

And something else I just thought of, ban banks from paying commission to thier staff/agents et al based on selling extra products, as I’m sure some PPI policies were sold to help trigger commision payments.