The Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, Christopher Woolard, delivered a speech on innovation and improving outcomes at the Global Digital Banking Conference, on 16 June 2016.

Key points from the speech include:

  • The FCA’s interest in innovation is primarily linked to its duty to promote competition in the interests of consumers.  According to the FCA, one of the best ways it can do this is to foster disruptive innovation.
  • Project Innovate offers individual support to new and established businesses to enable them to introduce innovative financial products and services to the market.  Since its launch in October 2014, over 500 requests for support have been received and direct support has been offered to over 250 firms who presented genuinely innovative ideas likely to have customer benefit. From the initial applicants, 40 have been authorised (or are close to being authorised) and are launching new products that may not have otherwise come to market.
  • The Advice Unit’s specific remit is to support firms developing automated (or ‘robo’) advice models which seek to deliver lower cost advice to consumers. The FCA will focus on models which look to fill the gaps in the current market identified by the Financial Advice Market Review (investments, pensions and protection).  Once the FCA has taken a few firms through the Unit, it will also look to share the lessons learned with the whole industry.
  • The FCA has found that potentially millions of UK consumers cannot use services that would help meet their needs and play a wider role in financial markets and the economy.  In response, the FCA is looking at technology as both a challenge to manage and a force for greater inclusion.

The speech also highlights that as proof of its commitment to innovation and improving outcomes, the FCA has already identified innovation as one of the FCA’s seven Business Plan priorities, in line with its duty to promote competition in the interests of consumers.