The head of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has described a meeting with Occupy London protesters as “fruitful and constructive”.
Hector Sants, the chief executive of the regulator, met with nine representatives of the Occupy London movement as part of the Church of England’s initiative on finance and ethics. Sants said “a number of important issues” had been discussed. He said: “The FSA is very firmly of the view, I’m very firmly of the view, that it’s very important we listen to everybody who wants to contribute to the debate about changing the financial system.
“They undoubtedly believe the financial system needs to change further – it has already changed a lot but it should change further. We had a very interesting discussion, a number of very interesting points were raised. I learned a lot, I listened and I got a very fruitful and constructive dialogue, which as far as I can judge I think all parties felt.”
“We were talking about the role the FSA plays in overseeing the financial system in the UK, how we are already going about trying to achieve significant change, and I was listening carefully to those areas where they would like to see further change,” Sants said.
The meeting was the first to be held by London Connection, which was set up by Bishop of London Rt Rev Dr Richard Chartres with the goal of “reconnecting finance and ethics” after the St Paul’s protest. Former chairman of Lazard International Ken Costa is heading the project and he attended the meeting between Sants and Occupy London.
In a statement, Costa said: “A thriving financial sector is essential to any successful economy – but that cannot become an excuse for its lost moral moorings. While the market economy is the most successful system we have devised for improving living standards, it has shifted from its ethical foundations with disastrous consequences. The City hasn’t lost its moral voice. London Connection is committed to ensuring it is loudly heard, listened to and acted upon.”
Demonstrators from Occupy London also felt positive about the meeting at St Ethelburga’s centre for reconciliation and peace in the City of London. Protester Mark Weaver said there was “a lot learned from either side”.
Weaver said: “Plenty of topics came up, from fractional reserve banking to hedge funds to the very ethics that drive banks. I got the impression that there was a lot of listening going on. There were people with very different views coming together and that does require a lot of listening. I’m looking forward to more discussions.”