On 6 February, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) published its 2008/9 Business Plan setting out its priorities for the year under these strategic headings: 

  • promoting efficient, orderly and fair markets
  • helping retail customers achieve a fair deal
  • improving the FSA's business capability and effectiveness.

Promoting efficient, orderly and fair markets

Of particular interest to insurers are:

  • The FSA's work, begun last year, looking at how firms set their underwriting risk appetite and strategy and firms' systems for monitoring performance against strategy;
  • a focus on firms informing customers about the implications of climate change, including the scope of cover, any significant exclusions and also raising consumer awareness that cover, particularly household policies, may become more expensive, or even be unavailable in some areas for some risks;
  • a focus on corporate governance for life mutuals;
  • FSA concerns about transparency and wider market efficient issues;
  • the second year of the FSA's three year financial crime strategy including the protection of consumers' personal data.

Helping retail customers achieve a fair deal

The FSA is approaching this objective from several angles:

  • on the supply side through the treating customers fairly (TCF) regime
  • on the demand side by educating customers
  • through shaping the UK and EU regulatory environment.

The FSA says that small firms can expect increased attention encouraging those supporting the TCF regime and a firmer approach for those slow to meet the FSA's standards.

The FSA will also be focussing on firms' awareness of, and compliance with, unfair claims in consumer contracts laws.

The FSA is continuing its focus on the sale of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). The FSA's principles-based regulatory approach has not been extended to PPI products, and the FSA will be taking enforcement action against firms failing to meet the required standards, where necessary.

Improving Business Capability and Effectiveness

The FSA will focus on:

- attracting, marketing and developing talented people

- improving the technical infrastructure

- a focus on knowledge management and integrated regulatory reporting