The FCA has published its 2015/16 business plan, a weighty document setting out its strategy and priorities for the next 12 months.

Financial crime has been elevated to one of its seven key risk areas, displacing rapid house price growth on its list of top concerns. 

The focus will be upon the effectiveness of firms’ systems and controls to prevent money laundering, bribery and corruption.  Firms will be expected to have effective, proportionate and risk-based systems in place to ensure that their business cannot be used for financial crime.

Some of the other ways in which the watchdog proposes to sharpen its crime-fighting profile include:

  • Utilising the new powers it will acquire from April 2015 to work concurrently with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to enforce certain contraventions of competition law in the financial services sector.
  • Continuing to pursue a strategy of credible deterrence by taking appropriate enforcement action against individuals for misconduct and breach of rules
  • Combatting market abuse by way of continued emphasis on education and engagement with industry to drive cultural change within firms.
  • Increasing focus on the technological challenges posed by cyber-crime
  • Working closely with firms in its new role as regulator and supervisor of LIBOR and other benchmarks to assist them in identifying potentially manipulative behaviour and implementing robust governance and oversight arrangements.
  • Continuing to input into the implementation in the UK of the second Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR)
  • Active monitoring of pension fraud in light of the recent pension reforms
  • Embedding better arrangements and support for whistleblowers

In making financial crime one of its key areas of focus, the FCA has set itself an ambitious agenda for the year ahead.  The challenge now will be how best to allocate its resources to achieve both these and its other, wider strategic objectives.