FCA launches latest business plan

The UK watchdog for the financial industry has committed to being a more innovative, adaptive, and assertive regulator, as the organisation launches its business plan for the year.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has released its first annual plan since Nikhil Rathi joined the regulator as chief executive in October 2020.

“The FCA must continue to become a forward-looking, proactive regulator,” said Rathi. “One that is tough, assertive, confident, decisive, agile.”

“One that acts, acts fast—and where we can’t act, engages enthusiastically with those who can.”
The Business Plan commits the FCA to becoming a regulator for the whole of the UK.

At present the FCA has offices in London and Edinburgh.

It is exploring opening an office in Leeds with at least 100 staff based there in the first phase; doubling headcount in Edinburgh to over 200 over the next 2 years; and establishing a presence in Belfast and Cardiff for the first time by the end of the year.

In a statement, the FCA said it will be accountable for its progress on setting the bar high to support market integrity and sustainable innovation, ensuring firms start with high standards and maintain them.

The authority said it would use new approaches to find issues and harm faster, with £120 million being invested in its data strategy over the next three years.

The FCA also aims to tackle misconduct to maintain trust and integrity, being “proactive at the boundaries of the perimeter,” enable consumers to make informed financial decisions, and invest more in the organisation.

“Over the next 18 months you will continue to see an FCA that looks and feels even more different. One that operates differently, partners differently, and communicates differently,” added the chief exec. “One that delivers market integrity and delivers for the consumers that we serve. One that is not only purposeful but that is fit for purpose.”

He said: “There is a lot of work to do. And I am confident that we have the right strategy, the right people and the right ambition to do it.”

The FCA’s Business Plan also set out further areas to focus on over the next year.

In consumer markets priorities include strengthening rules on financial promotions to protect consumers in relation to investments, continuing to improve standards of pension advice, a consumer campaign on scams and high-risk investments, and progressing proposals for a new Consumer Duty to raise standards in firms’ treatment of consumers.

Alongside this, the authority said it would focus on continuing to develop plans to make primary and secondary markets work better while maintaining high standards following the UK’s exit from the EU, as well as continuing to support the smooth transition away from sterling LIBOR to alternative risk-free rates.

The Business Plan also sets out a number of cross-cutting priorities including using the FCA’s authority and influence to work with partners to help drive down the incidence and impact of fraud, improving diversity and inclusion, both at the FCA and in regulated firms, and supporting environmental goals by adapting the regulatory framework to enable a market-based transition to net-zero carbon emissions.

The FCA announced today that it will begin a review of aspects of the rules on the scope and coverage of Financial Service Compensation Scheme payouts, for specific regulated activities.

The FCA will also be consulting on changing the balance between decisions taken by the FCA executive and the Regulatory Decisions Committee, which is a sub-committee of the Board. The proposed changes aim to streamline decision making on authorisation applications and specific supervisory and enforcement decisions.

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