On February 19, 2016, the Financial Conduct Authority published the findings of its review into the research and due diligence processes that firms undertake on the products and services they recommend to retail clients. The FCA assessed 13 advisory firms and also visited seven external research and due diligence consultancy firms. Key findings that emerged from the review were that most firms seek to achieve positive outcomes for their clients when undertaking research and due diligence and that there is some evidence of good practice. However, many firms do not demonstrate good practice consistently across all products and services. The FCA found that a corporate culture of challenge was a key driver of good research and due diligence. Those firms that did not have a corporate culture of challenge: (i) did not try to understand or challenge their own inappropriate bias towards products, services or providers; and (ii) inadequately managed conflicts of interest. The FCA has taken steps to address the issues found, instructing three firms to improve their research and due diligence process. The FCA has also asked one firm to complete a past business review. The FCA intends to provide firms with further communications that set out its expectations in this area in greater detail. In addition, the FCA’s second consultation paper on implementing the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, due to be published later this year, will cover requirements for research on products.

The FCA’s review report is available at: http://www.fca.org.uk/static/fca/article-type/thematic%20reviews/tr16-01.pdf