The Treasury Select Committee (TSC) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have been exchanging letters about the FCA’s treatment of whistleblowers in general, and the SME Alliance, in particular. Like the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards before it, the TSC seems less than impressed by what it’s found.

Our post, “How can a whistle-blower protect himself against the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority?” explains the background, and includes links to the early correspondence.

The TSC has just published the final letter in the series, together with an extract of the evidence given by the FCA’s new CEO to the TSC, and the TSC chair’s comments on the history and next steps.

The 2013 Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards found that the FCA “appeared to show little appreciation of the personal dilemmas that whistle-blowers may face”, needed to accept “its responsibility to support whistle-blowers”, and had “a great deal of work to do on this”.

The TSC / FCA correspondence was between the FCA’s former acting CEO, Tracy McDermott, and the TSC’s chair, Andrew Tyrie MP.

The FCA’s new CEO, Andrew Bailey, gave evidence to the TSC on 20 July 2016:

Chair: “Then there is the SME Alliance issue about treatment as whistle-blowers. It is difficult to get to the bottom of that one, but it does not look very good on the basis of the information that we have.”

Andrew Bailey: “I know that you and Tracy have exchanged letters on a number of occasions. The moral of the story was that, when that sort of thing happens, you have to be very clear and upfront with people and say “Are we in whistle-blowing or are we not in whistle-blowing?

Chair: “That clearly did not happen.

Andrew Bailey: “No, because unfortunately both sides had a slightly different interpretation ex post.

In his latest comments, Andrew Tyrie said, “The FCA was not clear whether it would treat the SME Alliance as whistle-blowers. In his evidence to the Committee last month, Andrew Bailey seems to appear to agree.

The regulator needs to grasp what’s needed to create an appropriate environment for whistle-blowers. Mr Bailey’s appointment is an opportunity further to implement the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, designed to ensure that whistleblowing will play a role in improving conduct in financial institutions.