UK Financial Conduct Authority Seeks Better Outcomes for Consumers, Markets

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued a statement on its objectives. As part of a three-year strategy, the financial regulator said it would focus on reducing and preventing harm, setting and testing higher standards while promoting competition.

The FCA claims that its new strategy has resulted in mitigating or removing more than 8000 potentially misleading promotions during 2022 – 14X year prior.

The FCA also shared that its more rigorous approach has resulted in the canceled authorization of 201 firms for failing to meet minimum standards.

Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the FCA said 2022 has been a difficult year for many people due to the increased cost of living. Therefore it is more important that financial firms meet their standards and treat customers fairly.

“As well as protecting consumers and supporting the vulnerable, we have been dealing with unprecedented market events and reviewing our rules to ensure our regulatory regime is fit for the future. We are working on reforms to the way companies are listed in the UK, which will support growth and competitiveness and continue to support innovative and fast-growing companies. We are pleased to have welcomed over 1,000 new colleagues to the FCA this year, and to have opened our new office in Leeds and accelerated our expansion in Edinburgh.”

The FCA shares that it has enabled the return of over £30 million to people from firms operating without authorisation.

The FCA has issued over 1,800 warnings about potential scam firms in 2022, 400 more than the previous year, and the FCA’s consumer hub claims that it has prevented £7 million from being lost to fraudsters.

The FCA told 3,500 lenders how they should be supporting borrowers in financial difficulty. As well, 32 lenders made changes to the way they treat customers, which led to seven firms paying £12 million in compensation to their customers.

Insurers were also warned to ensure payouts remain fair as inflation bites.

Steelworkers who received unsuitable advice to transfer out of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) will receive redress of, on average, £45,000 as a result of the FCA’s scheme to get financial advisers to pay for unsuitable advice they gave. The FCA also fined Pembrokeshire Mortgage Centre £2.4 million for serious failings in the way they advised BSPS members.

The FCA plans to bring in a new Consumer Duty, which is described as a fundamental shift in how firms serve their customers. The Duty is said to allow the FCA to take quicker action.

The FCA reports that it has increased scrutiny of firms seeking to offer services to UK customers. In 2021/22, one in five firms applying to operate here did not become authorized, up from 1 in 14 in 2020/21.

The FCA  says it continues to be proactive where activities are outside its remit, including Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) contracts. THe FCA will soon oversee BNPL providers.

In regards to competition, the FCA says it will reform the way companies lit in the UK in a push to boost listings of high quality firms and growth companies.

The FCA said it continues to be a world leader in innovation, with 56 firms being supported through its innovative services, such as the Sandbox. This includes 184 firms brought together to explore what crypto-asset regulation could look like in the future. So far, 39 crypto-asset firms have received registration under anti-money laundering rules. 

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