‘Making the Audit Market Work: the case for liberalising ownership’

A CSFI report by Paul Boyle

The ownership of UK audit firms should be relaxed to permit new capital to enter the industry to boost competition to the Big Four at the upper end of the market, according to a former chief executive of the UK’s audit regulator.

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‘The Last-Time Buyer: housing and finance for an ageing society’

A CSFI report by Professor Les Mayhew

Housing policy is too concentrated on first-time buyers and should be refocused towards ‘last-time buyers’ to encourage those aged 55+ to downsize, according to a new report for the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI).


‘The Dependency Trap - are we fit enough to face the future?’

A CSFI report by Professor Les Mayhew, with support from Schroders and Cass Business School

Raising the UK state pension age is not enough to address the challenges caused by an ageing population. The UK Government should instead support an ‘active ageing’ environment, which would improve health and economic activity among those aged over 50, according to our latest report - by Professor Les Mayhew of Cass Business School.

From Peer2Here: how new-model finance is changing the game for small businesses, investors and regulators

A CSFI report by Andy Davis
With support from CMS

May 2017

The explosive growth of new sources of finance for small businesses over the past five years represents a revolution in choice for borrowers and in investment opportunities for individual savers. But the challengers remain just that compared with the dominant market share of the big banks, and mass-market investment in these alternative assets is in its infancy.

Davis suggests that in response to these pressures, hybrid models will develop. Established direct lenders will increasingly use P2P platforms to syndicate their loan books into the retail market; P2P firms may, in addition, start to deploy their own balance sheets, like a bank (which will increase their profitability), or run collective investment schemes, like an asset manager. In other words, the boundaries between established and alternative providers of funds for SMEs will become more blurred, and the sources of those funds will expand to include a wider universe of investors. 

Reaching the poor: The intractable nature of financial exclusion in the UK

December 2016

This report, by our Financial Inclusion Fellow Christine Allison, is the most comprehensive survey of what is going on in the battle against financial exclusion in the UK to have been published in recent years. It includes an important foreword from Sir Hector Sants (who now chairs the StepChange debt charity), as well as contributions from, among others: Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Russell Hamblin-Boone, Rob Shearing, Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Matt Bland, Kenny MacLeod, Gareth Evans, and Mick McAteer.

Getting Brussels Right: "Best Practice" for City firms in a post-referendum EU

December 2016

How are we (that is, the UK, and more specifically the City of London) going to handle the Commission, the Council and the Parliament in the run-up to (and beyond) our exit? This report, written by our Brussels Fellow, addresses how the City should engage with the EU as the UK itself disengages. 

The Death of Retirement: a CSFI report on innovations in
work-based pensions

July 2015

This report, which marks the culmination of the PIC/CSFI Pensions Fellowship, focuses on work-based pensions in the private sector - and, within that, on the new "auto-enrolment" regime for mass retirement saving. 

The City and Brexit: a CSFI survey of the financial services sector's views on Britain and the EU

April 2015

This report is based on a survey of opinions on Brexit, drawn from the CSFI's extensive network of practitioners, regulators and observers.  The survey received 408 responses and the result was pretty overwhelming: nearly three-quarters would vote to stay in the EU in the event of a referendum. 

Financial Innovation: good thing, bad thing? The CSFI at 21

November 2014

A booklet produced to accompany the CSFI's 21st anniversary celebrations.

China's Banks in London

July 2013

He Ying's report is a quick snapshot of the banks incorporated in China and operating in the UK. The paper concludes that there is enormous scope, and they are steadily improving their business models and enlarging their offering.

Independent research: because they're worth it

November 2012

With the financial services industry contracting and tighter regulation here to stay, independent research providers need to demonstrate value creation and shift from being "nice to have" to "need to have".

Generation Y: the (modern) world of personal finance

July 2012

The case for young people to receive a better financial education has never been stronger. Most of the young people questioned in this survey found personal finance "interesting", yet 64% had not had any formal financial education.

Views on Vickers: responses to the ICB Report

November 2011

A compendium of views on the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking.

Has independent research come of age?

June 2011

Dealing commissions should not be used to pay for fund managers to have access to the clients of investment banks, according to a report on the independent research sector, which competes for a share of those commissions.

Getting Brussels right: "best practice" for City firms in handling EU institutions

December 2010

Malcolm Levitt gives valuable insight into how UK firms might engage more effectively with the powers-that-be in Brussels, in order to best maximise their opportunities within the EU.

Struggling up the learning curve: Solvency II and the insurance industry

June 2010

Shirley Beglinger argues that Solvency II will shake up the global insurance industry as surely as Basel II shook up the banks. And with similar unintended consequences.

Investing in Social Enterprise: the role of tax incentives

May 2010

An investigation into the various legal, tax and business forms that characterize the increasingly complex world of social entrepreneurship.


Fixing Regulation

October 2009

A pragmatic look at the post-crisis regulatory reform agenda, from the perspective of an experienced regulator.




Narrow Banking: the reform of banking regulation

September 2009

John Kay makes a powerful case that we are in danger of drawing the wrong lessons from the financial crisis.

Fair Banking: the road to redemption for UK banks

July 2009

The road to redemption for UK banks. The report sets out a new way to measure financial well-being and recommends that banks adopt a new set of tools that would help customers control their debt and improve their money management.

How to stop the recession

February 2009

A leading UK economist’s thoughts on resolving the current crises.


Web 2.0: how the next generation of the internet is changing financial services

September 2007

Is the Internet helping to redefine economic activity, or is it just another channel? Did the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000 bring an end to the hype and overvaluation of internet companies? Or was it just a pause?

Principles in practice

June 2007

An antidote to regulatory prescription. The report of the CSFI Working Group on Effective Regulation.


The Perversity of Insurance Accounting: in defence of finite re-insurance

September 2005

What this paper does is point out something that is (probably) obvious to most insurance professionals, but which doesn’t easily percolate through the wall between insurance and the rest of the financial services industry. It is that insurance is so different that it needs different, indeed bespoke, accounting rules, just as much as it needs its own, bespoke, regulatory rules. 

Not Waving but Drowning: over-indebtedness by misjudgment

March 2005

A bold proposal to render debt legally unenforceable that was extended to borrowers who were clearly in no position to repay the debt.

Regulation of the Non-Life Insurance Market: why is it so damn difficult?

November 2004

An appeal for caution as regulators set about putting the square peg of insurance into the round hole of banking-type regulation.

Pensions in Crisis? Restoring Confidence

May 2003

A summary of the discussions held during a one-day pensions conference.

Thinking Not Ticking: bringing competition to the public interest audit

April 2003

Proposals for improving the system of auditing large company financial statements.


Who Speaks for the City? Trade associations galore

November 2002

There are at least fifty trade associations representing City interests. Do they provide value for money?


The future of financial advice in a post-polarisation marketplace

November 2002

A report inspired by a working group on the regulation of financial advice in an era of personal financial responsibility.

Clearing and Settlement: monopoly or market?

October 2002

Introducing greater competition to the clearing and settlement of cross-border FX transactions.

Harvesting Technology: financing technology-based SMEs in the UK

April 2002

A review of six major studies on boosting private sector investment in UK SMEs.

Bumps on the Road to Basel: an anthology of views on
Basel II

January 2002

A collection of essays stemming from a seminar on Basel II held at the FSA in 2001.

Bridging the Equity Gap: a new proposal for virtual local equity markets

January 2001

A proposal for unbundling the national market for equities and reconstituting it as a series of local markets run by franchisees.

Setting Standards: professional bodies and the financial services sector

December 2014

Professional bodies can lead the banking industry’s efforts to reclaim professional standards – but only if they have greater employer recognition and credible teeth. 


New Directions for Insurance: implications for financial stability

October 2014

International regulators risk losing a sense of perspective by extending to the insurance industry, in blanket fashion, post-crisis measures designed to deal with financial instability.

Batting for the City: do the trade associations get it right?

June 2013

The first comprehensive review for a decade of financial trade associations based in the UK has found that a few big mergers have been offset by the creation of associations in innovative sectors.

Combining safety, efficiency and competition in Europe's post-trade market

October 2012

This report sets out nine recommendations, with supporting principles and guidelines, to enhance the safety, efficiency and benefits to users of Europe’s post-trade sector as it adjusts to a tsunami of EU regulation in the wake of the financial crisis.

Seeds of Change: emerging sources of non-bank funding for Britain's SMEs

July 2012

The first comprehensive survey of one of the fastest-growing financial sub-sectors in the UK.

Evolution and macro-prudential regulation

October 2011

Charles Taylor argues that financial systems are textbook examples of systems that change and develop according to the (relatively simple) rules of evolution.

Including Africa - beyond microfinance

February 2011

Mark Napier suggests that innovation by mainstream banks and the mobile phone industry will play a greater role in the future in building financial inclusion rather than in traditional microfinance.

Private equity, public loss?

July 2010

In this frank report, Peter Morris raises serious questions about the way private equity returns are measured, fees and incentives, and the diligence exercised by “sophisticated” investors in private equity funds.


Systemic policy and financial stability: a framework for delivery

June 2010

An important paper on the appropriate regulatory structure for dealing with systemic risk caused by failing financial institutions, including the proposal that there should be a Systemic Policy Committee (SPC).

The Credit Crunch Diaries

October 2009

Unlike many other books on the crunch, this one sidesteps the nightmarish stew of strange financial practices and derivatives that led to the crisis. However, there is still a serious point to The Credit Crunch Diaries. Before the crisis, bankers, like Gershon, were pulling in one direction, and regulators, like Parquet, were pulling in the other – but when it came to the crunch, both somehow turned out to be wrong. This book is a witty and sometimes bitingly satirical portrait of that failed relationship.

'Twin Peaks' Revisited: a second chance for regulatory reform

September 2009

In "'Twin Peaks' Revisited… a second chance for regulatory reform”, Michael Taylor has refined the argument to tackle the problem of “too big to fail” institutions.

Read the original report - "'Twin Peaks': a regulatory structure for the new century".

The Road to Long Finance: a systems view of the credit crunch

July 2009

A report analysing the systemic causes of the crisis and suggesting reforms that are an antidote to the current “more of the same” trend.

Grumpy Old Bankers: wisdom from crises past

March 2009

An anthology of insights into the present crisis by leading figures who grappled with previous ones.


Informal Money Transfers: economic links between UK diaspora groups and recipients "back home"

November 2007

This report has been produced with support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The author is David Seddon, Professor of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia, and one of this country’s foremost experts on diaspora communities.

A tough nut... Basel II, insurance and the law of unexpected consequences

September 2007

This is a paper that sets out to explain why insurers have had such little joy out of the Basel II experience - despite the fact that it was widely assumed that insurance would provide a cheap and effective mitigant for operational risk.

Big Bang: two decades on

February 2007

City experts who lived through Big Bang discuss the lasting impact of the de-regulation of London’s securities markets. Sponsored by Clifford Chance.

Surviving the Dog Food Years: solutions to the pensions crisis

April 2005

Replace the current state pensions with a single residency-based pension, administered by an independent non-political body.


Betting on the Future: online gambling goes mainstream financial

December 2004

Online gambling has disintermediated the middle-man and introduced real market discipline to the gambling area.

The Curse of the Corporate State: saving capitalism from itself

January 2004

Shareholder activism is the antidote to"corpocracy".


The Global FX Industry: coping with consolidation

May 2003

More and more FX business will gravitate towards a small group of institutions who have the volume to compensate for wafer-thin spreads and the resources to invest in processing technology.

Basel Lite: recommendations for the European implementation of the new Basel accord

April 2003

A proposal to relegate most of the detail of Basel to technical appendices in the EU implementing Directive (where they would be easier to amend), leaving the general principles of Basel for the main body of the Directive.

A New General Approach to Capital Adequacy: a simple and comprehensive alternative to Basel II

November 2002

A regulatory model that focuses on the outcome of good risk management - solvency - and not on the minutiae of how risks are managed.

Capitalism Without Owners Will Fail: a policymaker's guide to reform

November 2002

Solutions for tackling a systemic problem with corporate governance.

Waiting for Ariadne: a suggestion for reforming financial services regulation

July 2002

A proposal for a new type of fund that provides a way through the labyrinth of poor value advice for retail investors.

Single Stock Futures: the ultimate derivative

February 2002

Is there really a market for a derivative product that is specifically focused not on a class of assets, but on a single security?

Waking up to the FSA: how the City views its new regulator

May 2001

A look at the concerns voiced in the City regarding the FSA's new risk-based unitary regulatory structure.

Reinventing the Commonwealth Development Corporation
under Public-Private Partnership

March 2000

What will the privatisation of the UK's premier aid agency mean in practice?

Other CSFI Reports

Hard or scanned copies of the following reports may be available upon request:

  • Companies cannot do it alone: an investigation into UK management attitudes to Company Voluntary Arrangements (Tim Mocroft, July 2004)

  • The short-term price effects of popular share recommendations (Bill McCabe, September 2001)

  • IX: better or just bigger? (Andrew Hilton and David Lascelles, August 2000)

  • Internet Banking: a fragile flower (Andrew Hilton, April 2000)

  • In or Out: maximising the benefits / minimising the costs of (temporary or permanent) non-membership of EMU (Various, November 1999)

  • Europe's New Banks: the non-banks phenomenon (David Lascelles, November 1999)

  • A market comparable approach to the pricing of credit default swaps (Tim Townend, October 1999)

  • Quant and Mammon: meeting the City's requirements for post-graduate research and skills in financial engineering
    (David Lascelles, April 1999)

  • Psychology and the City: applications to trading, dealing and investment analysis (Denis Hilton, April 1999)

  • Le Prix de l'Europe: competition between London, Paris and Frankfurt (David Lascelles, February 1999)

  • The Internet in Ten Years' Time: a CSFI survey (Various, November 1998)

  • Cybercrime: tracing the evidence (Rosamund McDougall, September 1998)

  • Mutuality for the 21st Century (Rosalind Gilmore, July 1998)

  • Banking Banana Skins 1999 (David Lascelles, July 1999)

  • Emerald City Bank: banking in 2010 (Various, March 1998)

  • Credit Where Credit is Due: bringing microfinance into the mainstream (Peter Montagnon, February 1998)

  • The Fall of Mulhouse Brand (David Shireff, December 1997)

  • Call in the Red Braces Brigade: the case for electricity derivatives (Ronan Parker and Anthony White, November 1997)

  • Foreign Currency Exotic Options: A trading simulator for innovative dealers in foreign currency
    (Stavros Pavlou, October 1997)

  • The Internet & Financial Services (various, June 1997)

  • Banking Banana Skins 1997 (David Lascelles, April 1997)

  • The Crash of 2003: an EMU fairy tale (David Lascelles, December 1996)

  • Central Bank Intervention: new techniques for managing exchange rates (Neil Record, November 1996)

  • Peak Practice: how to reform the UK's regulatory system (Michael Taylor, October 1996)

  • Welfare: a radical rethink - the Personal Welfare Plan (Andrew Dobson, May 1996)

  • Banking Banana Skins 1996 (David Lascelles, March 1996)

  • "Twin Peaks": A regulatory structure for the new century (Dr Michael Taylor, December 1995)

  • Options and Currency Intervention (Charles Taylor, October 1995)

  • The UK Building Societies: do they have a future? (Various, September 1995)

  • The City Under Threat (Patrick de Jacquelot, August 1995)

  • Bringing Market-driven Regulation to European Banking: a proposal for 100 per cent cross-guarantees
    (Bert Ely, July 1995)

  • Economic and Monetary Union Stage III: the issues for banks (Malcolm Levitt, May 1995)

  • An Environmental Risk Rating for Scottish Nuclear (Various, March 1995)

  • Banks as Providers of Information Security Services (Nick Collin, February 1995)

  • Liquidity Ratings for Bonds (Ian Mackintosh, January 1995)

  • IBM/CSFI Prize: technology and financial services (Simon Moorhead and Graeme Faulds, December 1994)

  • Banking Banana Skins 1994 (II) (Various, November 1994)

  • The Euro-Arab Dilemma: harnessing public and private capital to generate jobs and growth in the Arab world
    (Jacques Roger-Machart, October 1994)

  • A new Approach to Setting Capital Requirements for Banks (Charles Taylor, July 1994)

  • Banking Banana Skins 1994 (I) (Various, June 1994)

  • UK Financial Regulation: a blueprint for change (by a senior commercial banker, May 1994)

  • The IBM Dollar: a proposal for the wider use of "target" currencies (Edward de Bono, March 1994)

  • Electronic Share Dealing for the Private Investor (Paul Laird, January 1994)

  • Rating Environmental Risk (David Lascelles, December 1993)

  • Derivatives for the Retail Client (Andrew Dobson, November 1993)

  • Financing the Russian Safety Net (Peter Ackerman and Edward Balls)