The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Business Plan

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK has released its business plan for the upcoming year, outlining a roadmap for the next 12 months. The FCA is the regulator of the local financial market, and its plan is in line with the three-year development strategy unveiled a year ago. The plan highlights four primary areas of focus: consumer needs, future financial services, UK’s position in global markets, and reducing and preventing financial crime.

The FCA’s three-year plan aims to improve outcomes for consumers and markets throughout the UK. A crucial aspect of the FCA’s strategy involves closing down businesses that fail to comply with fundamental regulations. The organization has recruited 80 individuals to significantly curb fraudulent activities. Greater attention is also paid to crypto firms that conduct illegal activities or harm consumers.

The FCA’s approach is likely to result in the cancellation of permissions of firms that do not maintain adequate financial and non-financial resources to ensure their operational resilience, potentially forcing them into insolvency. This is evident in the case of Pello Capital, which went into insolvency in Q4 2022.

The FCA aims to protect people from unfair treatment and ensure that firms support struggling consumers. With the Consumer Duty coming into force in July, the FCA aims to set higher consumer protection standards, encouraging innovation and competition. It plans to invest over £12m in the Future Regulatory Framework and Edinburgh Reforms to support the UK’s economic growth and competitiveness. The FCA also plans to continue supporting innovative and high-growth firms through their Sandbox and Early and High Growth Oversight functions.

The regulator plans to reform the listing regime to attract leading firms and encourage competition. On top of that, it will explore improvements to asset management regulation and consult on consolidated tapes to enhance wholesale data accessibility.

To minimize financial crime, the FCA aims to strengthen authorization processes, improve assessments of regulated firms, and increase staff for investigation and prosecution. It also plans to develop tools to find and remove scams, having already taken down hundreds of websites and issued over 1800 alerts in 2022.

The first quarter of 2023 has already seen the FCA hiring joint Executive Directors for Enforcement and Market Oversight, launching a consultation on updating regulations for the asset management industry, and preparing new rules for promoting cryptocurrency services in the UK.

The FCA rejected 8,582 rogue financial promotions in 2022 and sought their amendment or removal by authorized firms. This is approximately 1,400% more than the 573 financial promotions the regulator rebuffed in 2021. To protect customers even better, the British supervisor employed 1,000 new officers responsible for detecting potential financial harm. It also opened an office in Leeds and accelerated its expansion in Edinburgh.

The FCA’s business plan for 2023/24 focuses on combating scams and driving firms’ financial resilience. The plan includes the introduction of financial resilience reports for 20,000 solo-regulated companies, as well as a review of the regulator’s objectives, which include promoting effective competition.

In conclusion, the FCA’s plan for the upcoming year aims to improve consumer protection, encourage innovation and competition, and minimize financial crime. The regulator’s no-nonsense approach is likely to result in the cancellation of permissions of firms that do not comply with regulations, potentially forcing them into insolvency. The FCA’s proactive measures to protect customers from financial harm and combat fraudulent activities are commendable and necessary for a healthy financial market.

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