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The Financial Conduct Authority (or FCA) is the UK’s principal financial regulatory body,
responsible for upholding the integrity of financial organisations and markets
in the United Kingdom. The FCA was founded in 2013, in the wake of the Financial Services Act 2012, and it became the official replacement for
the FSA, which was abolished on the 1st of April 2013.
The FCA is
responsible for protecting firms in the financial market, as well as consumers.
It supervises nearly 60,000 companies in the financial services industry across
the UK, with the aim of ensuring that business is carried out in a fair and
honest manner. The FCA operates in line with three primary objectives, which
are as follows:
To provide a level of
protection for consumers
To maintain and enhance the
integrity of the financial system
To promote competition between
providers in the consumer’s interest
So, what does the FCA do?
As the key supervisory body in the UK, the FCA is responsible for setting the
standards that all financial products (such as ISAs, pensions and more) on the
market must adhere to, in the wholesale and retail sectors. If the FCA
determines that a financial firm’s products fail to meet the standards they set
out, they may demand that these products are withdrawn, or suspend the firm’s
right to provide them at all.
The FCA also upholds
anti-money laundering regulations implemented by the Financial Action Task
which include recommendations made in the EU’s 5th Money Laundering
All banks and financial
firms that are regulated by the FCA must also comply with these AML
regulations. They can do this by taking measures like implementing a risk-based
approach, carrying out customer due diligence, sanction screenings and appointing MLROs within their businesses.
As set out in the Financial Services Act 2012,
the FCA is legally required to regulate a number of specific financial
activities. Organisations which carry out these regulated activities may
therefore need to be registered or authorised with the FCA, or both.
That means not only banks, but consumer credit
firms, investment firms, benchmark administrators, payment services and e-money
firms may all require registration or authorisation with the FCA.
It’s worth noting that banks, insurance
providers and credit unions are regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) as well as the FCA. Firms in these categories should contact
the PRA directly to apply for authorisation.
If a registered firm in the financial services
industry fails to comply with AML regulations, then the FCA has a number of
enforcement powers at its disposal. The FCA can take several different courses
of action to punish non-compliance, but the penalty issued depends on the
nature of the misconduct. Here are some examples of the possible consequences:
Withdrawing a firm’s FCA authorisation status
Banning firms and individuals from carrying out regulated
Issuing monetary fines to those who fail to comply
Launching criminal prosecution against parties involved
Issue public warnings about the misconduct of firms and individuals
Fully complying with AML regulations can be a
complex job, as it requires staying up to date with guidelines from the FCA,
the FATF and the latest money laundering directive from the EU.
At SmartSearch, we make ticking every AML
compliance box easy, with our comprehensive range of AML products, all
accessible via one convenient platform. SmartSearch can ensure your business is
taking the right measures to counter financial crime risks, and remains audit-ready
at all times.
Our services include everything from KYC checks to
sanction and PEP screenings, and our electronic
verification system uses the Dow Jones WatchList, which is updated every day to
give you the most accurate results possible.
FCA stands for Financial Conduct Authority –
this is the name of the UK’s leading regulatory body for the financial services
industry. The FCA was established in April 2013, when it officially replaced
its predecessor, the Financial Services Authority.
It’s a common misconception that the FCA only
protects consumers in the financial services industry. In actual fact, the FCA
is responsible for upholding standards of integrity which protect both the
consumers and the firms within the financial system, as well as the industry as
The FCA is bound by the Financial Services Act
2012 to authorise all firms in the financial services sector. That includes any
firm which carries out regulated activities, such as banks, investment firms,
and other consumer credit firms.
The FCA will not hesitate to issue penalties to
firms which fail to comply with AML regulations. These penalties include, but
are not limited to, formal public warnings, monetary fines, suspension from
carrying out regulated activities and even criminal prosecution.