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FCA sharpens its focus to meet regulatory challenge

The Financial Conduct Authority has set out how it intends to meet the regulatory challenges ahead following a detailed review of its strategy, priorities and ways of working.

The FCA says its remit is “far-ranging and challenging with the recent additional responsibility for regulating consumer credit meaning the number of firms that now come under the FCA has trebled over the past 18 months”.

The approach is shaped by a strategy that will provide a “sharper focus” on how firms are regulated and on delivering the right outcome for consumers and the markets.

It recognises the differences in approach required across the industry given its size and variety, based on emphasising sector and market-wide work and reflecting the FCA’s competition duties. It also aligns the data and intelligence gathered from all sources to present a consistent FCA-view of what is happening in the market and what behaviour is expected from firms.

FCA CEO Martin Wheatley said of the changes: “In the 18 months, since the inception of the FCA, we have achieved a lot, and now is the time to sharpen our focus. To look at how we can deliver our objectives and ambitions to the best of our abilities. The financial industry continually evolves and to regulate it effectively we must evolve too.”

2014 has seen one of the biggest changes affecting point-of-sale finance provision for more than 40 years. On 1 April, 2014, financial industry regulation moved from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and this affected all powered two-wheeler dealers providing POS finance.

The FCA’s website (www.fca.org.uk) provides useful tools, guidance and webinars to help dealers understand the type of permission they need and what sort of information must be captured in their application form.

The FCA’s framework focuses on providing finance in a clear and transparent manner, with the principle of “treating customers fairly” at its core. In essence, this means that all finance agreements must be affordable, sustainable and transparent.

For dealers, this places a greater emphasis on protecting the customer during the creation of a finance agreement.

As for the latest development, the FCA says the main structural changes include:

  • We will bring together the current Authorisations and Supervision Divisions, with our specialist supervision functions such as financial crime and client assets. Two Divisions will be created from April 2015 allowing for a clearer distinction between our approach to regulation of large and smaller firms.
  • Tracey McDermott will take responsibility for managing this transition and will subsequently lead one of the new divisions.  
  • A new Strategy and Competition Division led by Christopher Woolard will build on our competition capabilities bringing together more of our market based work supported by an enhanced data, intelligence and research capability to enable better prioritisation and focus across the organisation.
  • A new Risk Division to provide a strategic approach to the management of internal and external risk. Richard Sutcliffe will be the acting Director for the new division;
  • A new Markets Policy and International division led by David Lawton will focus on increasing the FCA’s focus and influence on the European stage;
  • A market oversight division will be created incorporating our UKLA and Market Monitoring functions. This will be led on an acting basis by Marc Teasdale. Other specialist market supervision functions will be integrated with Supervision.

The changes will commence from 5 January, 2015, and will be fully in place by April.

Member of the Executive Committee and the Board, Clive Adamson, and Executive Committee members Zitah McMillan and Victoria Raffe have announced they will be leaving the organisation as part of the structural changes.

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