SuperSIB `could cost pounds 200m a year'

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The Independent Online
The creation of a unified City regulator, SuperSIB, is likely to cost City firms pounds 200m a year, according to an estimate by Coopers & Lybrand. That could jeopardise London's role as a leading financial centre, a senior figure at the accountancy firm told a conference on City regulation yesterday.

John Tattersall, chairman of Coopers' financial services team, was speaking shortly after Helen Liddell, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, added flesh to the bones of the proposed new Financial Services Bill that will put the new City watchdog on the statute book.

She promised a wholesale repeal and replacement of legislation in order to create "a more coherent body of law" and called on City practitioners to participate fully in the consultation process leading up to its publication next year. Firms that did not do so and were unhappy with the end result would have no-one to blame but themselves, she said.

Other features of the forthcoming bill she spelled out yesterday included the maintenance of SIB's legal status as a company limited by guarantee, the appointment of its board by the Treasury, and the promise that City practitioners would have an input in the setting of fees.

Mr Tattersall focused on those regulatory costs when he warned that the cost of regulation to individual firms would almost certainly rise between now and the end of the decade. He said the industry faced a challenge to keep those costs down.

According to work done by Coopers & Lybrand, the costs of regulation in the transition year from the self-regulatory system to the new single watchdog are likely to jump by 50 per cent to more than pounds 200m.

Mr Tattersall warned there was a danger that the new regime would impose a "highest common denominator" approach to regulation which would dramatically increase costs.