FCA shakes-up decision-making procedures in efficiency push

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wants to change the way the organisation makes critical regulatory decisions in a bid to make it faster and more efficient.

In a consultation released today (29 July), the body outlined its plans to shift certain decision-making responsibilities from its Regulatory Decisions Committee (RDC) to the FCA’s authorisations, supervision and enforcement divisions.

It said the changes would improve how it “tackles firms and individuals who do not meet the required standards”.

The shift would give greater responsibility for decisions on things such as starting civil or criminal proceedings to senior FCA staff members.

The shake-up is part of the FCA’s wider transformation project. It said changes proposed would involve streamlining the FCA decision-making and governance so it “can move more quickly to stop and prevent harm faster”.

At present, the RDC makes certain decisions on behalf of the FCA. It is a committee of the FCA board.

The consultation said FCA staff would now make the following decisions:

  • Imposing a requirement on a firm or varying its permissions by limiting or removing certain types of business;
  • Making a final decision in relation to a firm’s application for authorisation or an individual’s approval that has been challenged;
  • The decision to take action, after the action is challenged by the firm, in removing a firm’s permissions because a firm does not meet the FCA’s regulatory requirements;
  • The decision to start commencing civil and/or criminal proceedings.

The consultation, which closes on 17 September, added certain decisions would be retained by the RDC including in relation to contentious enforcement cases, where the FCA is proposing a disciplinary sanction or seeking to impose a prohibition order.

Authorisations executive director Emily Shepperd said: “The proposed changes will allow us to be more efficient by making best use of the breadth of expertise across the FCA and by putting certain decisions back to the subject matter experts.

“As a result of that, there will be greater accountability in those areas. The changes will help to increase the speed and reduce the regulatory costs of dealing with firms and individuals that fail to meet the FCA standards.”

She added: “As part of our transformation we will continue to take a fresh approach to tackle firms and individuals who do not meet the required standards. As part of this, we aim to become a forward-looking, proactive regulator – one that is tough, assertive, confident, decisive and agile.”

PIMFA senior policy adviser Simon Harrington said welcomed the consultation. He added: “We have been very clear – publicly and privately – that thriving retail markets depend on effective and proactive supervision of firms, which are either willingly or unknowingly introducing harm into the market.

“We believe that the proposals set out will make the regulator more efficient in its decision making and, provided that they are accompanied by improvements in identifying harm in the first place, lead to better outcomes for consumers.”

A policy statement on the outcome is expected in November.