Labour's brave new world takes shape

Davies pushes forward timetable for super-SIB
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The Independent Online
The creation of a powerful City regulator is to be pushed through more quickly than expected by Howard Davies, who takes over today as chairman of the Securities and Investments Board. It is hoped the accelerated introduction of the proposed mega-regulator, widely known as the super-SIB, will minimise the risk of ineffective regulation during an extended transition from the existing two-tier system of financial supervision.

According to Mr Davies, who was until yesterday the Bank of England's deputy governor, the new structure will be broadly in place by next spring when responsibility for banking supervision is transferred from the Bank.

Mr Davies, a former foreign office high flyer whose career has included spells at management consultant McKinsey and as director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said one of his first tasks would be to appoint a transitionary management team. He said heads of front-line regulators such as the Securities and Futures Authority and the Personal Investment Authority would have "first crack" at the new jobs.

Other priority issues would include sorting out a modus operandi with the Bank of England, from which the super-SIB plans to take more than 500 banking supervision staff and with which it will need to work closely on matters relating to the stability of the financial system as a whole.

Mr Davies will also look closely at the level of practitioner involvement in the new regulatory structure and at how the super-SIB will be funded. With an estimated 2,000 staff, the new regulator is expected to have an annual budget of around pounds 200m, but Mr Davies promised the costs of regulation would be "proportionate to the benefits".

He has also shortlisted several buildings in which to house the expanded regulator. With a requirement for at least 300,000 sq ft, speculation has grown that the super-SIB may have to locate in London's Docklands but the Corporation of London is sure to fight hard to retain such a high- profile tenant in the City itself.

Outlining the structure and timetable in a submission to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, Mr Davies warned that a major focus of the supervisor would be on the high levels of remuneration in the City.

In an interview to be broadcast on LWT's London Programme this Sunday, Mr Davies will say: "What we are interested in is the incentives that are created by remuneration structures. The danger is that you generate a system which incentivises people to such a degree that they have a strong personal interest in taking risks with other people's money."

One of the key conclusions of the report to the Chancellor was a decision to adopt an organisation based on regulatory functions - policy, authorisation, investigation, consumer relations and supervision - rather than by type of institution. In order to capitalise on expertise, however, supervision will be further divided into units overseeing particular areas such as banking or insurance.

The new organisation, officially known as NewRO until a more meaningful acronym is agreed on, will not formally come into existence until 1999 when an updated Financial Services Act is expected to become effective.

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