UK watchdog says handling of insurance review "not finest hour"

LONDON, March 31 Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:09am EDT

LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) - A slump in UK insurance shares on Friday following news of a planned review of the sector was "not the Financial Conduct Authority's finest hour," its chief executive said on Monday.

"Whenever markets move like they did on Friday there is always scrutiny," Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the FCA, told the City Week 2014 conference.

"This was clearly not the FCA's finest hour but it does serve as a timely reminder to all parties involved of the care and thought that is needed when handling significant amounts of information we hold as part of going about our business," Wheatley said

On Friday the FCA said an external lawyer will examine how the watchdog released news that day of a planned review into whether people locked into 30 million pension and other savings plans sold by insurers are treated fairly compared with new clients.

Shares in top insurers fell sharply on speculation the probe could lead to changes that affect the profitability of the products.

Andrew Tyrie, who chairs parliament's Treasury Committee, said on Saturday the FCA's actions seemed to be an extraordinary blunder.

Wheatley said he takes responsibility for what happens at the watchdog. (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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