Am I exposed to/protected from regulatory liability? Search me!

I took part recently in a webcast run by the British Bankers Association (BBA) entitled: “What to do When the Regulator Comes Calling” .

Judging by the fact that several hundred people registered for it, there seems to be no shortage of interest in the subject even though there have not been any enforcement actions since the introduction of the Senior Managers Regime in the UK in February of this year.

Protections for senior managers

Part of the session was devoted to the protections available to senior managers in the event that they find themselves in problems with the regulators. To set the scene at the start of the webcast, registrants were asked to vote on the following question:

On a scale of 1-5 (1 Not confident at all, 5 Very confident) how confident are you that you understand the trigger points for the insurance and indemnity protections which you enjoy?

What was striking is how few participants felt able to indicate that they were “confident” that they had the requisite understanding. The full results are reproduced here.

Enforcement

Participants were also asked to indicate their degree of confidence in their understanding as to how enforcement actions could be taken against them. Here the results were less stark but still striking.

These results chime strongly with the results of our latest annual survey of D&O liability and coverage issues which we run jointly with law firm Allen & Overy.

The top concern on the liability front for directors was regulatory investigations and the number one issue from a coverage standpoint was the wish for clear and transparent terms. These results suggest that the concern is well founded and that the wish is not being as well fulfilled as it should be.

In essence our message was that if, as a senior manager, you have no idea what to expect before the regulators come knocking on your door (either in terms of their likely approach or as to the tools at your disposal to deal with them) it is probably too late for you.

Although we didn’t have the time to repeat the questions at the end of the BBA webcast to see whether our discussion had made any difference, perhaps we did succeed in converting some of Donald Rumsfeld’s famous “unknown unknowns” at least into “known unknowns”. If you have a chance please do run the webcast and judge for yourself.

About Francis Kean

Francis is an Executive Director in Willis Towers Watson's FINEX Global, where he specializes in insurance for Dir…
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