FCA reforms decision-making and invests in hybrid working

The updated decision-making process aims to ensure decisions to prevent or stop consumer harm are taken more quickly.

FCA reforms decision-making and invests in hybrid working

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has made reforms to its decision-making process to ensure it can make faster and more effective decisions for consumers, markets and firms.

 

In order to move toward its goal of becoming a more innovative and assertive regulator, more decisions will be taken by the FCA’s senior managers, rather than by the Regulatory Decisions Committee (RDC).

The FCA reforms aim to ensure decisions to prevent or stop consumer harm are taken more quickly.

More contentious cases will continue to be reviewed by the RDC, which is a committee of the FCA’s board that operates separately from the regulator.

The RDC's members are drawn from business, consumer and financial services backgrounds.

The FCA’s senior managers are now able to take decisions on: a firm’s authorisation or individual’s approval; action in straightforward cases to cancel a firm’s permissions; starting civil proceedings; starting criminal proceedings; using FCA powers to vary or limit a firm’s permissions; and using FCA powers to impose requirements on a firm.

The FCA will carry out a six-month post-implementation review to assess the effectiveness of the reforms.

Emily Shepperd, executive director of authorisations, said: "We are taking a fresh approach to tackling firms and individuals who do not meet the required standards.

"Our new streamlined decision-making process will allow us to be more assertive in stopping harm."

The regulator has also recently made a £5m investment in new laptops and mobile phones to support remote working.

The data was obtained using Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation and analysed by the Parliament Street think tank.

Between April 2021 and August 2021, a total of 5,850 new laptops were purchased by the FCA, which stated that the spending range was £5,000,000 to £10,000,000 for laptops over the last 12 months.

The FCA also purchased 307 Samsung phones and 39 iPhones with an indicative range of the spend of up to £100,000.

In addition, the FCA procured 5,500 Microsoft licenses for Office 365 in 2019, 5,200 in 2020, and 5,300 in 2021, costing about £1m to £5m for each year.

However, this follows the FCA’s own warning about the dangers of remote working, where it released recommendations for businesses that use a remote or hybrid employment model.

According to the guidelines, companies will be assessed by theFCAand must demonstrate that remote working does not hinder their capacity to fulfil the threshold for the regulated activity they have or will have approval for.

Companies should now ensure that remote working does not compromise the firm’s ability to monitor its functions, harm consumers, compromise market integrity, increase financial crime, or restrict competition.

Sridhar Iyengar, MD for Zoho Europe, said: “Increased digitalisation is critical to any business operating today, but adapting to a flexible remote or hybrid work model requires more than just technology investment.

"Companies must ensure that staff are provided with the provisions, care, guidance and infrastructure to effectively adapt to new operational changes, no matter the size of business or whether they are private or public companies.

“As services become increasingly digitalised, it’s important that businesses equip themselves with the right tools and platform to ensure that they run as efficiently as when workers were office-based.

"The working model switch should not prove a hindrance to any aspect of performance.

"Organisations must also ensure they remain compliant with the regulations they are governed by, in the same way they would need to with any working model.

"Leaders must take the time to assess whether the right digital strategy and culture is in place to serve them long-term.

"They must be prepared to be more adaptable, flexible and agile than ever before as this period has shown businesses need to be prepared for whatever the future may hold, and that can include completely unexpected factors.”

Edward Blake, area vice president EMEA for Absolute Software, added: “Remote working is evidently one of the favoured operational models for long term remote working, but organisations which opt for it must ensure that they are protecting the additional devices and users on a given network.

“Even the UK’s regulators aren’t safe from the onslaught of cyber crime aimed at newly remote workers, and it’s essential that IT decision makers have full visibility over their network of distributed devices.

"What’s more, adopting a Zero Trust approach to network data and application access is imperative to ensuring that malicious actors which will, or even already have, gained access are stopped in their tracks.”

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