The regulator’s plans recognise the impact of Covid-19 on the financial services sector says interim chief executive

The FCA has published its business priorities for 2020 and 2021, placing a clear emphasis on the challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

The regulator stated that it will focus on ensuring that financial services businesses give people the support they need, help people to avoid scams and make sure that financial services companies and markets know what the FCA expects of them generally.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the FCA specifically plans to:

  • Protect the most vulnerable – ensuring that they can get the financial services and the help they need.
  • Tackle scams – helping consumers avoid the scams that spring up as the pandemic develops.
  • Ensure fair treatment for consumers and small firms – making sure that firms give strong and clear support to customers, recognising challenges that everyone is facing.
  • Keep markets working well – ensuring that markets remain orderly.
  • Mitigate firm failures – mitigating the impact on consumers where firms fail in these challenging circumstances.

These aims align with interventions the FCA has already implemented alongside HM Treasury and the Bank of England, which ensure that customers can retain access to essential banking services and are able to benefit from flexibility on mortgage and other debt payments.

Medium-term goals

In the medium-term, the FCA has identified four priority areas. These aim to ensure that consumers:

  • Can rely on safe and accessible payments to receive their pay or benefits, settle bills and access cash.
  • Do not get into unaffordable debt and are treated well if they do.
  • Can make effective investment decisions about their savings and are not exposed to risky or poor value products.
  • Are offered fair value products in a digital age and are not at risk of being treated unfairly in the pricing and other terms they receive.

Alongside this, the regulator is also focusing on transforming its operations. This will include evaluating how it collects data, how it analyses, manages and shares intelligence across the organisation and how it decides which firms and individuals can operate.

The FCA will additionally look at how firms are supervised and how unacceptable firms and individuals are stopped and removed from the regulated sector as quickly as possible.

In order to achieve these numerous goals, the FCA plans to build its capacity by investing in skills, systems, people and technology. Although, naturally, its objectives will be reviewed as the implications of the coronavirus outbreak become more apparent.

FCA interim chief executive Chris Woolard, said: “In a matter of weeks, coronavirus has altered the UK’s financial landscape dramatically.

“At times like this it is more important than ever that the FCA leads the way on the protection of consumers, firms and the markets.

“Our business plan recognises the impact of coronavirus on the financial services industry, while looking forward at how we transform the FCA’s operations in future.”