Logotype The Swedish NAO, link to startpage.

Revolving door syndrome a challenge for Finansinspektionen

Finansinspektionen needs to reduce risks linked to the closeness existing between the authority and financial market actors. The Swedish National Audit Office would like to see more training, control and documentation.

A person enters a revolving door. The image is cut so that only the feet and lower legs are visible.

Photo: Anki Höglund

Finansinspektionen grants licenses to and is the supervisory authority for the financial market actors. In addition, the authority issues regulations for the financial market. In order to fulfil these important and demanding assignments, Finansinspektionen needs to be completely free of undue influence.

The Swedish NAO has therefore audited how Finansinspektionen works to combat the risk of conflicts of interest, which can, for example, lead to employees promoting their own interests or being so formed by the sector’s values that they find it difficult to be impartial in their exercise of public authority.

The audit shows that Finansinspektionen has extensive exchange of staff with the financial sector, which entails challenges and risks that must be managed. Every third manager has been recruited from there and two out of three go there when they leave Finansinspektionen. Half of the case officers in the core business have been recruited directly from financial sector companies, and nearly 70 per cent have worked there at some point.

“It is natural that the authority obtains expertise where it exists, that is from the financial market. But then management must also ensure that the risks it entails are managed effectively,” says Leif Svensson, project leader for the audit.

The Swedish NAO notes that Finansinspektionen has the most important tools in place – in the form of rules, guidelines and work processes – but needs to do more in order for them to be applied as intended and with the desired results.

“Apart from more follow-up and control, the authority also needs to invest resources in training and informing its staff of the risks of conflicts of interest and what it means to be a government official,” says Helena Lindberg.

The audit findings also show that:

  • the Council on Ethics set up by Finansinspektionen in 2017 has so far kept a low profile
  • managers and case officers only receive limited support in interpreting the rules consistently
  • notifications and decisions concerning disqualification and secondary employment are almost never documented, making them difficult to follow up
  • the authority largely lacks procedures to remind employees to notify conflicts of interest.

The purpose of the audit was not to look for individual cases or assess whether conflicts of interest have had negative consequences for the authority’s activities.

Recommendations

The Swedish NAO recommends in brief that Finansinspektionen

  • increase training and information initiatives on conflicts of interest and the role of government officials for all operative staff
  • make it easier for staff to interpret the rules on conflicts of interest
  • develop control and follow-up of how rules and efforts to combat conflicts of interest are applied and function.
  • extend documentation of notifications and decisions as regards disqualification, secondary employment and other conflicts of interest.

See the report for full recommendations.

Presskontakt: Olle Castelius, tel: 08-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 19 November 2020

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