Public Sector: FSA hires ReputationInc to handle pensions issue

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has drafted in ReputationInc as it grapples with the thorny issue of pensions regulation.

The FSA has appointed its first retained agency to provide counsel on forthcoming 'major policy issues' as the Government seeks a solution to Britain's pensions shortfall.

ReputationInc is charged with communicating the FSA's stance on issues to businesses, politicians, consumers and NGOs.

'We need to make sure that the messages we send out to each audience are the same. We will identify stakeholders and contact them directly. Media relations will be subordinate to that,' said ReputationInc chairman Nigel Whittaker.

The FSA has used agencies on a project basis in the past; this particular hire follows criticism over the way it handled action against insurance giant Legal & General earlier in the year.

L&G had challenged a £1.1m fine imposed by the FSA for endowment misselling.

The subsequent Financial Services and Markets Tribunal broadly backed the regulator but criticised its decisions committee for errors in assessing the evidence.

The ruling prompted the FSA to review its enforcement procedures.

The FSA was created via a ten-way merger of smaller financial services regulators in 1997 and has since adopted responsibility for overseeing sectors formerly policed by the Building Societies Commission, the Personal Investment Authority and The Friendly Societies Commission.

ReputationInc won the account after a six-way pitch and adds the FSA to its list of auditing clients.

Whittaker, who leads the account, reports to FSA director of people and communications Vernon Everitt.

Everitt joined the FSA as head of internal communications in 1998 and was previously Bank of England EMU project manager.

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