FCA's life insurance policy review sends share prices tumbling

PRWeek news editor Daniel Farey-Jones winces at the Financial Conduct Authority's handling of the announcement of a life insurance policy review.

The cries of outrage emanating from the insurance sector make it easy to pick out this month’s howler, which was blamed for knocking billions of pounds off the share values of the likes of Prudential and Legal & General.

The miscommunication by the regulator started with a selective briefing to the Daily Telegraph. This gave rise to a story that the FCA was planning to review exit fees on 30 million closed life insurance policies.

The mistake was compounded by the six-and-a-half hours it took after the stockmarket opened for the FCA to issue a clarification that its plans were less aggressive. The organisation was attacked for creating a false market in insurers’ shares and pressure has been put on its chief executive Martin Wheatley to step down. To cap it all, Chancellor George Osborne wrote to the FCA’s chairman John Griffith-Jones to say he was ‘profoundly concerned’ by the events, which he described as ‘damaging both to the FCA and to the UK’s reputation for regulatory stability and competence’.

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