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LONDONThe financial services regulator for the United Kingdom has set out plans to encourage the use of industry guidance by insurers and brokers to reduce the overall regulatory burden.
The Financial Services Authority issued a discussion paper, in which it confirms that it is willing to recognize industry guidance developed by trade bodies such as the Assn. of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers Assn.
According to a spokesman for the FSA, this approach will apply to wholesale insurance markets, as well as the consumer facing side of the industry.
The spokesperson said that the FSA would consider recognizing industry guidance on such issues as broker transparency and contract certainty. Such guidance could help "avoid further rules," the FSA spokesman said. However, industry guidance, such as codes of practice, would supplement rules and not replace them, he added.
In a statement, the FSA said that it plans to encourage greater use of industry guidance as part of a move towards a more "principles-based approach to regulation."
The FSA's move is part of a wider initiative by the British government to reduce the burden of regulation for U.K. industry. Other government departments have been challenged with reducing the regulatory burden, with the Health and Safety Executive publishing its plans earlier this month.
Speaking at the Financial Services Skills Council annual conference in London yesterday, FSA chairman Callum McCarthy said "that the relationship between the FSA and regulated firms will change and that there would be a move away from 'box-ticking.'"
The FSA estimates the cost of financial services regulation in the United Kingdom at £600 million ($1.14 billion) annually. Changes already made to regulation, notably the reduction in money laundering rules, have led to a £250 million reduction, Mr. McCarthy claimed. He added that the FSA has a program to review other rules over the next two years, which account for more than 80% of its administrative costs. Mr. McCarthy was unable to commit to a target for a reduction in FSA administrative costs.