On 24 March 2015, the FCA published its Business Plan setting out its risk outlook, strategy, key priorities and ongoing activities for the upcoming year. The risk outlook highlights seven forward-looking areas of focus for the FCA. The majority of the foci identified for 2015/2016 featured previously in last year’s risk outlook, save a new focus on the importance of firms’ systems and controls in preventing financial crime. The FCA has confirmed that it will continue to focus on anti-money laundering, anti-bribery and anti-corruption measures “… as these are the areas in which we consider we can deliver the most value”.
It is notable that individual accountability is identified as one of the five key priorities and in particular “… we must ensure that senior individuals in positions of responsibility are held personally accountable for how their firm operates, and for the consequences of misconduct.” This priority reflects the FCA’s focus on: changing a firm’s culture to ensure, among other points, that conduct issues are a priority; finalising the rules regarding the senior managers and certified persons regime; maintaining a key role in driving the regulation on variable remuneration; individual accountability in its enforcement work; and whistleblowing (an area in which the FCA noted an increase “… in the number of whistleblowers who contacted us in 2014/15, and in the quality of information they gave us …”).