The latest annual report from the Financial Conduct Authority is a veritable smorgasbord of updates about the watchdog’s successes in the 2021/22 financial year.
What it is lacking, however, is any news on its overdue and oft derided review of the collapse of Neil Woodford’s (pictured) investment management empire.
As previously reported, the third anniversary of the LF Woodford Equity Income fund’s demise was marked on 3 June with investors still awaiting the outcome of the FCA’s investigation.
That the latest annual report contains no mention of it further compounds the insult already added to the injury they have suffered.
In response, an FCA spokesperson told Portfolio Adviser: “We recognise the time taken to investigate causes frustration among those affected by a firm or fund failure and who are, understandably, looking for answers. It is vital we investigate thoroughly and that is what we are doing.
“We continue to make progress on the case and will provide an update when we are able.”
Investors still trapped in the fund have recently seen the value of one of its remaining holdings slashed to nil, ahead of Woodford pulling the plug on his UK comeback bid.
The fund’s authorised corporate director, Link Fund Solutions, has warned the wind-up could push into 2023. Harcus Parker and Leigh Day are jointly mounting a legal challenge against Link for its alleged mishandling of the fund.
Consumer redress and Spacs
Among its operational highlights, the FCA pointed to the 197 cancellations it secured from firms that have not carried on regulatory activity in the preceding 12 months.
More than 1,400 scam warnings were sent out over the year, while the regulator’s fight against unauthorised investment business saw £34.8m in consumer redress secured.
In addition, it brought about “significant changes” to its listing rules to support companies seeking investment, the FCA added.
“These include an alternative approach for special purpose acquisition companies (Spacs), allowing a targeted form of dual class shares, reducing the level of publicly-held shares required for an initial listing and increasing the required minimum market capitalisation when companies list shares.”
There were three Spac listings between August 2021 to the end of March 2022. Each raised between £115m – £175m. This is a considerable jump from the average listing of £5m prior to April 2021.