City watchdog to launch probe into investment and corporate banking

19th February 2015

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The City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is to launch an investigation into investment and corporate banking in a bid to assess whether competition in the sector is working properly.

The move follows the publication of its review into competition in the wholesale sector, which found that limited clarity over price and quality of services may make it difficult for clients to assess whether they are getting value for money, and that the bundling and cross selling of services could make it tricky for new entrants or smaller established firms to challenge established large players in the market.

Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the FCA said: “We have chosen this particular area because the benefits of effective competition in the market could be significant. The UK is a global hub for investment banking, and this sector plays a crucial role in our economy, helping companies raise capital for investment, expansion and funding ongoing operations.

“What was clear from the discussions we had with stakeholders and firms was that there are unanswered questions about potential conflicts of interest and value for money in this market. This will form part of our wider work in the wholesale markets, alongside the Fair and Effective Markets Review.”

Terms of reference for this study will be published in Spring, and will be informed by views from industry, trade bodies and clients. Feedback received to date included concerns around transparency, conflicts of interest and the impact that bundling services together has on competition, including new firms’ ability to enter the market.

During the wholesale sector review the FCA met with around 70 organisations and individuals, through a combination of round-tables and one-to-one meetings and received 40 written responses.

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