On 15 July 2021, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)  published its annual business plan setting out its areas of focus and key priorities for the year ahead.

Consumer markets priorities

  • Strengthening rules on financial promotions to protect consumers in relation to investments.
  • Continuing to improve standards of pension advice.
  • A consumer campaign on scams and high-risk investments.
  • Progressing proposals for a new Consumer Duty to raise standards in firms’ treatment of consumers'.

Wholesale market priorities

  • Following the UK’s exit from the EU, continuing to develop plans to make primary and secondary markets work better while maintaining high standards.
  • Continuing to support the smooth transition away from sterling LIBOR to alternative risk-free rates.

Broader market-wide priorities

  • Using the FCA’s authority and influence to work with partners to help drive down the incidence and impact of fraud.
  • Improving diversity and inclusion, both at the FCA and in regulated firms.
  • Supporting environmental goals by adapting the regulatory framework to enable a market-based transition to net-zero carbon emissions.

The business plan confirms the FCA’s intention to streamline decision-making on authorisation applications and specific supervisory and enforcement decisions, which will allow it to make decisions faster to protect consumers and market integrity by changing the balance of decisions taken by the FCA Executive and the Regulatory Decisions Committee ( RDC). This may reduce the role of the RDC and the independent scrutiny it brings.

The FCA will also undertake a review on certain aspects of the rules on the scope and coverage for Financial Service Compensation Scheme (FSCS) payouts around specified regulated activities.

Following criticism of the FCA in its handling of the £237m collapse of London Capital & Finance which wiped out the savings of 11,600 investors, can the FCA deliver on its desire to be a more assertive and proactive regulator "that is not only purposeful but that is fit for purpose"?