FCA vows to get faster at spotting poor behaviour

The UK’s financial watchdog has outlined plans to overhaul its practices and vowed to be faster at spotting fraud and poor behaviour by banks.

Bosses at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said £120 million will be invested in improving its data capabilities over the next three years to crack down on fraud and misconduct.

These include strengthening rules on financial promotions to protect investors, improve standards on pension advice and taking a more proactive approach to spot scams and high-risk investments.

The plans come less than a month after MPs on the Treasury Select Committee said the FCA needed a culture change following the collapse of mini-bond firm London Capital & Finance (LCF).

LCF went bust in 2019 after raising £237 million from 11,000 small investors and a report by Dame Elizabeth Gloster last December found the FCA failed to properly regulate and supervise the business.

She called on the regulator to focus on improving internal authorisation and supervision processes.

In an apparent nod to the report, the FCA said it would be “proactive at the boundaries of the perimeter” of its regulated markets – having previously pointed out the LCF model did not fall under its remit.

The regulator also said it would develop new plans to differentiate the UK’s financial institutions from EU ones following the recent revelation from Chancellor Rishi Sunak that attempts to sign a mutual recognition deal with Brussels had failed.

Other areas of focus also include cost-cutting by working with partners to drive down fraud, improving diversity and inclusion in the banking sector and finding ways to work towards net-zero carbon emissions targets.

A review has also been launched into the rules and scope of how many people would be entitled to payouts under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme for certain regulated activities when they go bust.

Bosses also hope to open new offices in Leeds with at least 100 staff, alongside sites in Belfast and Cardiff. Plans are also under way to double the headcount at its Edinburgh office to more than 200 over the next two years.

Chief executive Nikhil Rathi said: “The FCA must continue to become a forward-looking, proactive regulator. 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.”

He added: “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.

“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.”