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The individualization of corporate governance: The approved persons' regime for UK financial services firms

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Purpose ‐ Under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is the single regulator of firms in the UK financial services industry. The Act grants extensive powers to the FSA such that it can impose by rules and regulations additional corporate governance requirements on firms in the financial services industry. The legislative and regulatory requirements also extend to individuals under the FSA approved persons' regime. The purpose of the paper is to examine this individualization of corporate governance. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper first explores the rise to significance of internal control and risk management in corporate governance and regulation, and links this to Beck's risk society and individualization theses. The extent of the individualization of corporate governance by the approved persons' regime is explored by examining three sources of evidence: the FSA's documents setting out the approved persons' regime; the initial perceptions about the implementation of the approved persons' regime from interviews with high-level individuals in the financial services industry; and the outcomes of illustrative FSA enforcement actions against individuals. Findings ‐ The findings are that the FSA has developed a comprehensive and formidable apparatus for the individualization of corporate governance in the UK's financial services industry. It is argued that a discourse based on the interpretive evaluations of internal control and risk management may be replacing a discourse based on the quantitative techniques of management accounting, which may be characterised as the demise of the "calculating self" and the rise of the "auditable self". Practical implications ‐ The FSA's approved persons' regime could be developed as a model for other areas of the private and public sectors, where for regulatory purposes it may be desirable to identify approved or official roles. Originality/value ‐ The ability of regulators to "make" corporate governance by rules and regulations is relatively unexplored. Also, the focus of corporate governance is on firms rather than individuals. The paper considers the extension of corporate governance from the firm to the individual that may be achieved by regulation.

Keywords: Corporate governance; Financial services; Regulation; Risk analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-09-19

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