Lipsey quits FSA over efforts to expand role

Head of consumer panel sought to increase lobbying
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The Independent Online

David Lipsey, who joined the Financial Services Authority in June to head its consumer advisory panel, has resigned less than six months into the job after growing frustrated with opposition to his ambitious plans to boost resources and expand the panel's remit into new areas.

The panel was established to represent the interests of consumers, and is intended to be independent of the FSA in its views. It offers opinions on industry trends, as well as FSA decisions. As an example, it publicly expressed concern earlier this month at news the FSA will wind up its Treating Customers Fairly initiative. It also set out consumer-friendly goals for banking compensation reforms. Lord Lipsey had wanted to expand the panel's remit as a lobbying organisation, with this move to be funded by the FSA.

In his resignation letter, he said he had failed to win support for the expanded role and more funding. "This approach has not won the support of the FSA or the panel as a whole...In these circumstances, the panel requires a change of leadership,"he said.

The FSA is entirely funded by member companies. Any requests that push up costs are therefore always likely to be difficult. The FSA has recently said it may already need to increase the money it charges members, at a difficult time for companies in the industry.

The resignation takes effect on Tuesday. FSA chairman Adair Turner said Lord Lipsey had proposed the panel be given "a much wider remit with a role across a wide lobbying agenda supported by greatly increased resources".

"Members of the consumer panel did not share David's belief this wider role was appropriate, nor did the FSA believe the change was required," Lord Turner said in a statement. The panel's vice chairman, Adam Phillips, will stand in for Lord Lipsey until a permanent replacement is found. The resignation will come as another blow to the FSA, which is facing criticism and scrutiny over its handling of the financial meltdown.

Lord Lipsey is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords. He joined the Financial Services Consumer Panel as chairman on 2 June 2008, having previously worked with regulators including the Personal Investment Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority. He had also been a journalist, with positions including associate editor of The Times, deputy editor of the now-defunct The Sunday Correspondent, editor of New Society and political editor at The Economist. He had a stint as a public policy expert as chair of the Social Market Foundation think-tank.