FSA admits Northern Rock failures and launches reforms

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LONDON – The UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) has admitted four “key failings” in a summary of its internal audit review of the organisation’s supervision of the recently nationalised bank Northern Rock. The FSA says a reform programme will be “advanced urgently”.

The first failing was a lack of supervisory engagement with Northern Rock. Specifically this means the responsible team failed to pay enough attention to the model pursued by the bank’s management as market conditions deteriorated.

The FSA’s line management then failed to provide adequate oversight and review of the quality of Northern Rock’s supervision. Key meetings went unrecorded and senior FSA management remained insufficiently engaged.

The resources specifically directed to Northern Rock’s supervision were inadequate, the report says, highlighting that there were too few people involved and more resources needed.

Lastly, the FSA did not make best use of the information and resources available, with inadequate use of intelligence in calculating the firm’s risk exposure, leading to inadequate execution of supervisory action.

The FSA says the failings found with regard to Northern Rock represent a scenario “at the extreme end of the spectrum”. As part of its wider programme of improvements, it intends to concentrate on core prudential risks, and to create a new group of supervisory specialists to review its engagement with high-impact firms.

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