Regulation Watch aims to provide members with updates on the activity of the sector's regulators, highlighting areas of specific interest.
Recommended - highlights speeches, videos and audio relating to hot topics
Recent News - a digest of some of the most relevant publications and updates released by the main regulatory bodies
The First Global Sustainability Standards: The International Sustainability Board (ISSB) has published the first set of global standards for sustainability disclosures. These provide a baseline for sustainability disclosure reporting and have been designed to ensure that companies provide sustainability-related information alongside financial statements—in the same reporting package. Whilst it is for regulators around the world to determine how to apply these in their jurisdictions, there is great support for the standards as they create ‘a common language for disclosing the effect of climate-related risks and opportunities on a company’s prospects’ in a consistent and comparable way.
The financial advice/guidance boundary: In this speech by Therese Chambers, until recently the FCA's Director of Consumer Investments, from 23 March, the FCA's joint Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, provides an update on the regulator's work to improving consumer access to high quality financial advice - whatever their savings pot. Feedback to the recent consultation (CP22/24) on extending the advice regime is still being reviewed. However it looks like the proposed timeframes may need to be adjusted and the criteria rethought. Work to address the advice gap must also be informed by any reforms to the advice/guidance boundary. A holistic review of the boundary between advice and guidance was announced in the 2022 Edinburgh Reforms (see below). This speech wasn't used to reveal the timeline for that review, instead focusing on the liaison between the Treasury and the FCA in scoping the review to ensure it ' delivers what consumers want and has consumer support'. We continue to watch for progress.
Finance for positive sustainable change: In February the FCA published its Discussion Paper (DP23/1) to open a dialogue to better understand how firms are considering governance, incentives and competence to ensure the finance sector delivers on its potential to drive positive, sustainable change. The paper highlights the importance of education and training as issues deserving greater priority on the regulatory agenda in the UK if the finance sector is to be able to deliver on its potential to drive positive sustainable change. The DP also includes a collection of 10 commissioned articles from experts with relevant and interesting perspectives on firms’ sustainability-related governance, incentives, competence and stewardship arrangements. Amongst these you will find an engaging contribution from our CEO, Simon Thompson. Members are encouraged to read this paper. The FCA invites comments before the 10th May 2023.
Edinburgh Reforms: A package of measures announced by the Chancellor in December 2022 received significant media attention. This link takes you to the official announcement where you can digest what might be new and what is a restatement of already planned activities familiar to those following the planned reforms to the regulatory framework and the new Financial Service and Markets Bill currently making its way through parliament. We are working through the various associated publications to develop relevant content to help members get to grips with what it all means. Of particular interest to members will be the review of the Senior Manager and Certification Regime coming in Q1 2023 and the revision of the Consumer Credit Act. We also anticipate the update to the government's Green Finance Strategy early in the new year - which we hope will become the Green and Sustainable Finance Strategy.
Green Finance Institute Nature Toolkit: Although this doesn't fall into our usual focus on regulatory activity, given its timing to coincide with the recent Nature and Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP15), we thought we'd bring you news of a new initiative. The Investment Readiness Projects Toolkit is aimed at accelerating 'the development of investment ready nature-based projects in the UK.' In its press release, GFI reports that £97 billion in investment in nature is required over the decade ahead. Setting out 8 milestones, the toolkit aims to help bridge the gap between project developers and investors /lenders with a view to mobilising private finance to support the restoration of nature, and further innovation in nature-based solutions.
Saving Cinderella: mitigate to survive, adapt to thrive: A thought provoking speech from the Environment Agency's CEO Sir James Bevan where he uses the story of Cinderella to highlight the need for adaptation in the fight against climate change and to have any chance of achieving the necessary target of 1.5 degrees warming. He cites a statement from the UK Committee on Climate Change, which described adaptation as ‘The Cinderella of climate change, still sitting in rags by the stove: under-resourced, underfunded and often ignored’. Sir Bevan notes that the cost of adaptation will 'always be an issue', especially during a cost of living crisis. He therefore makes two points about money: first that that adapting to climate change is excellent value stating that "every £1 invested produces up to £10 in net economic benefit." His second point is that the money needed to adapt to climate change will mainly come from the private sector. "Private sector companies increasingly recognise that mitigating their own impacts on the climate and adapting their business for a climate changed world is not just the right thing to do but good business. Companies that do so will thrive, and those who don’t will not survive."
Popular, but under pressure – cash in the digital age: In this very accessible speech, Martin Schlegel, Vice Chairman of the Governing Board, Swiss National Bank outlines the role of cash in the context of financial stability. He notes that for the population to be able to continue to choose as freely as possible between cash and cashless payment methods in future, 'we need to take due care of the cash infrastructure.' Mr Schlegel highlights that for this there is a shared responsibility to maintain the cash payment system: from 'cash processing operators, banks and the post office, which all play key roles in the distribution of banknotes and coins.' He closed by adding that 'the use and acceptance of cash by businesses, retailers and not least by consumers also contribute to a functioning cash infrastructure.' An interesting speech which shows clearly both our emotional attachment to cash - yet our steady move away from its use in our everyday - and the consequences of this.
Rolling regulation forwards: This speech from Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the conduct regulator sets out a future pathway whereby the FCA will use the new consumer duty framework to shape the sector's use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other new technologies. He notes that AI can help solve some of the issues highlighted tonight, such as spotting the signs of vulnerability, tailoring products to individuals and receiving accurate customer feedback and data. And clearly Mr Rathi has been on his travels, citing examples from Japan and the Netherlands. Something to look out for in the near future, through the FCA's chairmanship of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN) - a new sprint enabling firms to trial and scale new tech across multiple jurisdictions, focusing on environmental, social and governance (ESG), supporting global market access.
Climate Scenario Analysis: The Financial Stability Board (FSB) and Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) have published a joint report outlining initial findings from climate scenario analyses undertaken by financial authorities around the world to assess climate-related financial risks. The findings from climate scenario analysis exercises undertaken by financial authorities at the individual firm level, at the level of the different financial sectors, and at the overall financial system level are brought together. From this the authors draw lessons for future exercises warning that current climate scenario analysis exercises may understate climate exposures and vulnerabilities.
The House of Lords Fraud Act 2006 and Digital Fraud Committee has published its report, ‘Fighting Fraud: Breaking the Chain’. Referencing our increased use of technology, it notes that 'Digital technology has led to new opportunities for fraudsters, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend as people moved more of their lives online.' Amongst the key recommendations is a call for the introduction of a delay lasting no more than several hours on certain high-risk payments to give banks more time to analyse whether a payment might be fraudulent.
What firms and customers can expect from the consumer duty and other regulatory reforms: We can expect to see a lot coming from the FCA over the next few months as the regulator encourages organisations to ensure they have plans in place to meet the requirements of the new Consumer Duty which comes into force from next July. By the end of October 2022 firms must have agreed implementation plans in place. In this speech, Sheldon Mills makes it clear that the regulator will be expecting a lot of firms, despite acknowledging the challenges: “We will be seeking evidence from firms of what consumer outcomes are being achieved, and how firms are assuring themselves that they are meeting these outcomes.” For an overview of the timeline and other background information, as well as the finalised rules – visit the FCA’s new dedicated Consumer Duty webpage.
How regulation can prepare the ground for economic growth: In this speech by the FCA’s Sarah Pritchard there is a lot of ground covered highlighting the regulator’s increasing focus on outcomes. From highlighting work done to improve the authorisation process and encourage innovation, to what the future might bring when the Financial Services Bill is eventually passed and with it the proposed changes to the regulatory framework. In the FCA’s sights is work to unpick the EU rules which defined advice and guidance. The passage of the FS Bill is behind schedule, but in anticipation, the FCA is planning a ‘holistic review of the boundary between advice and guidance so we can understand how to reduce the regulatory burden while continuing to provide the right level of consumer protection.’ We will watch for this with interest.
The PRA's future approach to policy: In a speech highlighting a new Discussion paper from the Prudential Regulatory Authority, Vicky Saporta speaks to the new secondary objective which will apply to the regulator when the Financial Services Bill completes its passage through parliament. As part of the proposed changes to the regulatory framework, this secondary objective requires the PRA (and FCA) to ensure the international competitiveness of the UK. Ms Saporta makes clear the PRA’s position stating that "…the first thing the PRA can do to facilitate competitiveness is to help maintain trust in the UK as a good place to do business. And it can do so by maintaining a regulatory regime that is open to international business, non-discriminating, predictable, transparent, responsive to threats and opportunities, and which provides clear and accessible rules.” We would encourage interested members to engage with the Discussion Paper (PRA’s approach to policy – DP4/22 ) which provides an opportunity to flag up any post-Brexit red tape remaining in ‘adopted’ EU regulations. It aims to start a conversation about how the regulator approaches policy-making following the repeal of retained EU law and in light of its new responsibilities. As Ms Saporta puts it in this speech: "The PRA will not be turning the dial up to eleven. We will turn the dial down when we can."
Bank of England cyclical scenario testing: The Bank of England has published the key elements for the annual scenario testing. This year’s scenario testing was postponed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The scenario will cover a five-year horizon using the end of June 2022 as the starting point with results to be published in Summer 2023. The exercise is used to help inform banks’ capital buffers.
Fighting Financial Crime: Sarah Pritchard, Executive Director, Markets at the FCA talks about the role of professionals in firms in identifying and addressing potential financial crime. For example, “scanning and being alert to red flags, using their human knowledge and instinct to interpret the clues from conversations and customer behaviour; technology identifying unusual patterns of activity.” When this information is shared with regulators, and law enforcement, it can be instrumental in protecting consumers. As the cost-of-living crisis extends, the regulator anticipates a potential rise in consumer harm and also for more individuals “being recruited to act as money mules.” An article worth reading to ensure you stay ahead and alert!
Consumer Duty published: After a year of consultation and feedback, the new Consumer Duty has been published by the FCA. This starts the clock ticking for regulated retail financial services firms to ensure they meet the new package of measures all new and existing products and services that are currently on sale by June 2023, with a longer deadline of June 2024 for closed-book products. The regulator has published non-Handbook guidance alongside the policy statement, which provides examples of good and poor practice to help firms better apply the new duty.
FCA review of SME lending: The FCA has published its findings following a review of the policies and practices of 11 retail banks as regards lending to SMEs. Amongst the key issues highlighted are the fact that small businesses were not being treated fairly when they try to agree a sustainable payment plan and that staff were not receive the right training to provide effective support to customers and make fair decisions about cases. It's not a long read and so recommended to anyone working with SMEs. 'Dear CEO' letters have now been issued across the sector, and one can assume this is a warning shot that lender do not forget that SMEs are covered by the new Consumer Duty, the finalised policy statement for which is anticipated at some point this Summer.
Green Swan Conference 2022: The videos and transcripts from this 2-day virtual conference provide plenty of food for thought. Organised by, amongst others, the Bank for International Settlements the agenda offers a 'deeper dive' into the topics of monetary policy through the lens of climate change and the role of finance in the climate transition, including disclosures, transition plans and financing green innovation. Take your pick from a series of insightful panel sessions and keynote speeches!
Critical issues in financial regulation: The FCA's perspective If you haven't had time yet to digest the conduct regulator's recently published 3-year strategy, then this speech by the FCA's Chief Executive, Nikhil Rathi, provides a good summary. In it he acknowledges the cost of living crisis and refers to the work being done to further protect consumers and improve outcomes for them when using financial services.
Bufferati This speech by Sam Woods, CEO of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) provides a hypothetical regulatory regime, presenting a vision of capital requirements that is less complex, more practical and offering greater flexibility. And whilst a regulator stating that regulation is too complicated is somewhat novel, the fact this is done through an analogy to the production of concept cars, makes a highly technical subject interesting and accessible for, well most of us. The model proposes, amongst other features, a single capital buffer that takes into consideration both micro- and macro-prudential risks, potentially released in its entirety under a stress. It is a radical vision (see his previous Strong and Simple speech below) and one viewed by some with some caution. As the FT comments: one argument in favour of “rules and rigidity is that it helps protects the regulator from external pressure, and the system against regulatory drift or forbearance”.
Supporting consumer through tough times - Speech by FCA Interim Director of Retail Lending, Brian Corr in which he calls for firms in the credit market to no wait until the new Consumer Duty comes into force. Instead he urges them to follow the regulator in turning their attention to delivering the right outcomes for their customers now. It provides some clear examples of what the FCA is expecting. For example with regard to product suitability, are products designed for short term borrowing being used by customers for long-term borrowing and is that leading to persistent debt? A recommended read for those following the development of the Consumer Duty and especially how this will look in practice.
Bank of England statement will launch a consultation with HMT in 2022 which will set out their assessment of the case for a UK Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). CBDC would be a new form of digital money issued by the Bank of England for use by households and businesses for everyday payment needs. It would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them. Find out more about Central bank digital currencies in this Institute blog.
Drivers of change in the financial services industry and how we are responding: Jessica Rusu, Chief Data, Information and Intelligence Officer, discusses the issues of fraudsters and scammers as well as the regulator's role in an increasingly data driven world.
Measuring and assessing culture, now and in the future, the role of purpose and the importance of Divesity and Inclusion: Sheldon Mills, FCA's Executive Director, Consumers and Competition, gives a regulator's perspective just days before the joint FCA/PRA discussion paper (DP21/2) on this important topic closes. Outlining the drivers against which the FCA measures organisational culture as purpose, people, leadership and governance, he highlights some examples of areas where purposeful culture might be observed: "significant business model restructures, the approach to remuneration, a speak-up culture, Board and ExCo composition, diversity, succession planning, the application of the SMCR, the effectiveness of a firm’s controls environment or its governance structures." Sustainability and the transition to net zero are also brought into this context - with the warning that: "Climate change, like diversity and inclusion and other ESG issues must be a central part of how you do business. This will increasingly form part of the FCA’s supervisory engagement strategy and you should expect to be challenged more on these issues."
Seizing the opportunity: Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the FCA outlines the priorities for the regulator in the coming months. It comes with a clear statement of purpose: "We have often been criticised for acting slowly or with too much risk aversion. This is changing." He also trails the publication of the third annual perimeter report in October. This will set out the FCA's views on how the regulatory framework might evolve.
The risks of token regulation: A speech by Chair of the FCA and PSR, Charles Randell, voices his concerns about the increase in crypto token scams. It's not often you'll hear a regulator refer to a Kardashian - but he does this to good effect in describing the risks involved with this unregulated sector. Most powerful stat: around 2.3 million Britons currently such tokens, with 14% using credit to purchase them and 12% mistakenly believing they will be protected by the FCA or FSSC if things go wrong.
Transforming to a forward-looking, proactive regulator: Speech by FCA CEO, Nikhil Rathi in which he sets out the role of the regulator 'in a post-covid, post-Brexit and increasingly post-carbon economy' whilst launching the FCA's delayed Business Plan (see note below under 'Recent News').
Do we need 'public' money?: Speech given by Sir Jon Cunliffe of the Bank England on the future of money. in an increasingly digital world. Food for thought!
Compliance, Culture and Evolving Regulatory Expectations: This recent speech from Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, focuses on conduct. Following the cues in Nikhil Rathi's speech in March, in discussing the 5 Conduct Questions, it seems even more likely that a 6th question will be asked of firms - one that speaks to the issues of diversity and inclusion - you have been warned! It also comes with a fascinating, cautionary tale of individual responsibility which underlies the importance of 'tone within' in addition to tone from the top.
Key facts about UK-based financial and related professional services: This is the annual update by CityUK of key data about the Financial Services sector in the UK. It comes with the caveat however, that many of the figures reported are pre-pandemic. That said, in themselves they are interesting, as they potentially indicate pre-pandemic trends, for example, in the use of digital services, which meant the sector was ready to support consumers during the last year. Click the headline for a visual summary, or here for the full report.
Why diversity and inclusion are regulatory issues: In this speech, FCA CEO, Nikhil Rathi comments that the ongoing lack of diversity at the top in some firms raises questions about their ability to understand the different communities they serve, and their different needs. Tying his points to the recently published guidance on vulnerable consumers, which highlighted the needed for firms to understand and respond to the needs of their customers, Mr Rathi notes that this is unlikely if they do not have the diversity of background and experience required to overcome biases and blind spots. As a regulator there are tools at their disposal, for example whether the diversity of management teams – and the inclusivity of the management culture they create – could be part of our consideration of senior manager applications. He concludes by stressing that diversity matters to the FCA because it reduces conduct risk - so firms that fail to reflect society run the risk of poorly serving diverse communities. "And, at that point, diversity and inclusion become regulatory issues."
FCA warning to banks re branch closures: Notified that some banks and building societies plan to continue their plans for, branch closures or have announced further closures, the regulator is reminding firms of their requirement to treat their customers fairly, and communicate with them in a fair, clear and not misleading way. In doing so, it highlights the expectation that firms will exercise particular care with vulnerable customers. The Final Guidance (FG20/03) on Branch and ATM closures or conversions (published September 2020) outlines the FCA's expectation in this regard.
Why does the FCA care about diversity and inclusion? An interesting speech by Georgina Philippou, Senior Adviser to the FCA,
in which she talks about issues of diversity, as well as inclusion: “People with different life experiences can bring new thinking and their experiences can inspire new approaches to problem solving and decision making”. There are also some thoughts on culture - acknowledging that culture will be different in different firms but that “it is the responsibility of us all, of everyone in the financial services industry, to create and maintain cultures which embody diversity and inclusion”.
Covid and the composition of spending: An interesting, if at times technical speech by Ben Broadbent of the Bank of England, in which he looks at how Covid has changed the spending habits of households and what this may have meant for costs and inflation.
Anneliese Dodds’ speech to Bloomberg: Some positive messages about the role of responsible bankers during the current pandemic in this speech by Anneliese Dodds., to whom our CEO wrote earlier this year. "In 2020, we have often seen the sector at its best. Setting up huge new systems overnight to get government-backed loans out to businesses who were desperately short of cash. Helping those who ran into difficulty to keep a roof over their head. Partnering with charities to support those most in need.
We must harness that sense of active commitment as we plan for the recovery- a recovery which must be environmentally productive, not destructive; and one marked by providing additional opportunity, not wasting it."
Seizing the Opportunities from Digital Finance: This speech is not exactly the one delivered by Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England and Member of the Monetary Policy Committee. Andy spoke of the regional economic imbalance across the UK. There were issues pre-COVID, such as gaps in financing SMEs, which are only increased by the pandemic. We will attempt to get hold of the speech as it was very informative and thought provoking. It concluded by returning to the published script and how the opportunities offered by digital might support the need to level up.
The potential long-term effects of Covid The Bank of England's Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking, Dave Ramsden, looks at the impact of the Covid pandemic on the UK economy. He examines what the long-term effects are and how the economy is likely to respond.
Strong and simple: In this speech, the PRA's CEO, Sam Woods, explains where to next for the regulator when certain limitations are removed upon our withdrawal from the EU. Without getting overly technical, this is an informative look at where we can expect changes in UK regulation of small deposit-takers and how he believes this will contribute to his vision of the future UK regulatory framework that has high regulatory standards, offers responsible openness to those seeking to invest, and a dynamism that keeps pace with developments in the sector. That is once they can decide what 'small' means!
Acting flexibly and treating customers fairly in the face of a pandemic: A worthwhile read for those working in consumer credit. In this speech, the FCA’s Jonathan Davidson outlines the priorities as the regulator sees them, during the current phase of this pandemic. This includes a focus on vulnerability, the expectations around forbearance and the operational challenges to be overcome.
Is home working good for you? A really interesting speech by the Bank of England's Andy Haldane, in which he looks at the impact home working has had on productivity and output, through well-being and happiness to the impact on creativity and relationships. Sadly, I couldn’t access the Engaging Business report which he refers to – if I do I’ll post the link here.
Evolution of a new model for financial regulation in the UK: As he prepares to stand down as Interim Chief Executive of the FCA on 30 September 2020, Chris Woolard looks at what lessons the regulator can should be taking from Covid-19 so far in terms of society, technology and the manner in which the FCA regulates; what changes might the FCA need to make to meet some of these challenges; and, as we transition out of the EU, what kind of regulation does the UK need?
Older speech listings and some research referenced by regulators can be found in this archive.
Open Banking: On 25 March 2022, HM Treasury (HMT), the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) published a joint statement on the future of Open Banking. The statement provides an overview of the phased approach being taken to provide the vision and constitution for the future entity. These bodies will jointly oversee the new entity once it is set up. This annonucement follows the publication of the CMA's recommendations in response to its public consultation last year as to the required arrangements necessary for ensuring the effective oversight and governance of the new entity. A new regulatory oversight Committee, led by the FCA and PSR, will first convene in Q2 2022 with the intention of having established priorities by Q4 2022.
FCA ESG priorities. Published alongside a discussion paper (DP 21/04) the regulator sought initial views on new sustainability disclosure requirements for asset managers and FCA-regulated asset owners, as well as a new classification and labelling system for sustainable investment products. The FCA strategy focuses on 5 key themes:
- Transparency – promoting transparency on climate change and wider sustainability along the value chain
- Trust – building trust and integrity in ESG-labelled instruments, products and the supporting ecosystem
- Tools – working with others to enhance industry capabilities and support firms’ management of climate-related and wider sustainability risks, opportunities and impacts
- Transition – supporting the role of finance in delivering a market-led transition to a more sustainable economy
- Team – developing strategies, organisational structures, resources and tools to support the integration of ESG into FCA activities
We would hope to see this strategy cutting across future policy work, ensuring that sustainability is placed at the heart of all developments in the sector.
Diversity and Inclusion - Further to the 2021 Discussion Paper (DP21/2) published jointly by the PRA, the FCA and the Bank of England, the FCA has now published its Policy Statement outlining new requirements for listed companies to disclose information against targets on the representation of women and ethnic minorities on their boards and executive management. On a 'comply or explain' basis firms must provide numeric statements against the following targets:
- At least 40% of the board should be women.
- At least one of the senior board positions (Chair, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Senior Independent Director (SID) should be a woman.
- At least one member of the board should be from an ethnic minority background excluding white ethnic groups (as set out in categories used by the Office for National Statistics).
The discussion paper had included suggested plans to extend targeted diversity characteristics to improve, for example, physical, cognitive and socio-economic diversity. The rules do not move this agenda forward in terms of a requirement to make a full numeric disclosure. However, the relevant rule within the Disclosure and Transparency Rules (DTR) is amended so that a company’s disclosure on its board diversity policy provides greater transparancy in this regard and as applied to executive committees, and further guidance provided under DTR 7.2.8CG.
The requirements apply for the financial accounting periods starting 1 April 2022 and there is a commitment to review these rules in 3 years’ time.
Our response to the originating Discussion Paper can be found on the Consultation Response pages of the Knowledge Hub.
New Consumer Duty: The FCA published its feedback and further proposals for consultation on the planned new Consumer Duty. This included draft rules and draft guidance. To recap, the new duty comprises a package of measures, a new high level Principle (A firm must act to deliver good outcomes for retail clients), 4 outcomes supporting the Principles and a set of cross-cutting rules outlining the 3 key behaviours the FCA want to see from firms. These proposals also introduce a new conduct rule within the SMCR where their firms’ activities fall within scope of the Consumer Duty. In this case Rule 4 within the conduct rules would not apply and instead individuals will be required to 'act to deliver good outcomes for retail customers’.
The finalised policy statement is expected in Summer 2022 (likely July) at which point an implementation period will start, and firms and their employees will have until April 2023 to ensure they meet the new requirements.
Fair Treatment of Vulnerable Customers: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published final guidance clarifying its expectations of firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. This is incredibly important as recent FCA data indicates that: "27.7 million adults in the UK now have characteristics of vulnerability such as poor health, experiencing negative life events, low financial resilience or low capability. Not all people with these characteristics will suffer harm, but they may limit people’s ability to make reasonable decisions or put them at greater risk of mis-selling." Those interested in this topic may also be interested in the proposals set out by Fair by Design and the Money Advice Trust, in their joint guidance for firms called Inclusive Design for Essential Services, published in January 2021:
Consumer Investments: The FCA is committed to publishing an update report on a half yearly basis with regard to its work to reduce the impact of consumer harm in the investment market and the insights we are gaining from it. Here is the latest report.
Consumer Credit: In November 2020 the FCA updated its guidance for firms relating to the exceptional circumstances arising out of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its impact on the financial situation of consumer credit customers. Follow the guidance here.
Mortgages: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) continues to provide guidance to mortgage firms outlingin how they can help customers during the cost of living crisis in the UK. This includes published guidance that sets our how firms can support their customers to manage their monthly mortgage payments, alongside information for borrowers affected by rising prices.
Regulatory Initiatives Grid: The publication of the second Grid of 2022 has been delayed due to the announced package of initiatives known as the Edinburgh Reforms. The GRID is published at least twice a year and outlines what is in the financial services regulatory pipeline to help manage the operational impact on firms of implementing initiatives from the Forum members. It outlines timings for initiatives that are multi-sector as well as sector specific work. The Forum continues to encourage feedback to ensure the Grid is as useful as possible.
Access to Cash: In May 2022 the FCA was given new powers to address cash access issues at both a national and local level, and includes government expectations for what consitutes a 'reasonable distance' for people to travel when depositing and withdrawing cash.
Consumer Credit: As part of the package of measures known as the Edinburgh Reforms, the government has opened a public consultation on reform of the Consumer Credit Act. The Review sets out the aim of helping facilitate innovation in the credit sector and to increase accessibility of credit products. The government would also like to 'bolster existing consumer protections' to ensure customers remain protected in an increasingly digital economy.
Previous work on consumer credit includes the Review led by Chris Woolard published in February 2020. This concentrated on how regulation can better support a healthy unsecured lending market, taking into account the impact of the coronavirus on employment security and credit scores, changes in business models and new developments in unsecured lending including the growth of unregulated products in retail and the workplace. For more details you can view the report on the FCA's website.
Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR): The FCA's SMCR is also to be reviewed under the Edinburgh Reforms with a consultation announced for Q1 2023. This shouldn't be too surprising as the regime has been in place for over 5 years in banking and insurance and across the most of the wider financial services sector for 3 years. Some commentators doubt that there is a broad desire across the sector for a 'bonfire' of regulation given how much has been invested in implementing and monitoring the regime. However, questions are likely to be asked about the limited application of the regulatory tools in terms of bringing individuals to account.
FCA Register: The FCA has replaced its Financial Services Register with an enhanced Financial Services Register. The enhanced Register has a new look and includes improvements made in response to user feedback. The intention is that these changes will make it easier to find and understand information on the Register - why not take a look and send in your feedback!
Financial Inclusion and Capability: The Treasury has released its report for the period 2019-20 outlining the progress made against its objectives. It does not reveal much that is new to followers of this topic, but neatly summarises the number of government led/supported initiatives ongoing.
Live and Local to check if the FCA are running any events, in your area on a topic of interest follow this link to their website.