The Financial Conduct Authority has this week published its mission, which will give firms and consumers greater clarity about how it prioritises its interventions in financial markets. It has simultaneously published its Business Plan for 2017/2018 and its Sector Views, which highlight the issues and developments the FCA sees in the sectors it regulates.
The Business Plan, Mission Statement and Sector Views document, taken together, are the most comprehensive statement to date by the FCA on its strategic priorities, areas of regulatory concern and general approach.
Firms should not expect any slack on implementing major European directives in the UK, including MiFID II and the Fourth Money Laundering Directive. The FCA will also be heavily involved in Brexit work.
In terms of sector priorities, there is a clear emphasis on retail-facing industries, with a concern about consumer vulnerability and access to financial services, demonstrated by planned work on consumer credit and retirement advice. The FCA is also looking more intensively at firms’ business models, with new competition powers to back this up, e.g. within their review of retail banking business models, reviewing pricing practices in general insurance, and assessing how effectively competition is working in the wholesale insurance market.
Financial crime – particularly cybercrime – and anti-money laundering are also a strong priority. It will also be reviewing the Financial Crime Annual Data Returns provided by firms. Cybercrime continues to be an increasing threat and the FCA will be using their existing framework to ensure firms have strong controls in place for cybercrime specifically.
Finally, one new area identified for FCA review is the motor finance industry, where the FCA has concerns about lack of transparency, potential conflicts of interest and irresponsible lending. Car dealers beware – the FCA will be on your forecourt.