About the FCA

We are the conduct regulator for around 51,000 financial services firms and financial markets in the UK. Find out more about what we do and how we do it.

What we do

Financial markets need to be honest, fair and effective so consumers get a fair deal. We aim to make markets work well for individuals, for businesses and for the economy as a whole.

We do this by: 

  • regulating the conduct of around 51,000 businesses
  • prudentially supervising 49,000 firms
  • setting specific standards for around 18,000 firms

We were established on 1 April 2013, taking over responsibility for conduct and relevant prudential regulation from the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

We work alongside the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the prudential regulator of around 1,500 banks, building societies, credit unions, insurers and major investment firms.

Authorisation

Firms and individuals need to be authorised or registered by us to carry out certain activities. 

Applicants must meet a range of requirements before we allow them to operate in the market. We review their business plans, risks, budgets, resources, systems, controls and whether key staff have the necessary qualifications and experience to carry out their roles effectively. 

Once authorised, they need to continue to meet our standards and rules and achieve good outcomes. 

Find out more about: 

Why we do it

Financial services play a critical role in the lives of everyone in the UK, from children’s ISAs to pensions, direct debits to credit cards, loans to investments. 

How well financial markets work has a fundamental impact on us all.

UK financial services employ over 1.1 million people and contribute £75.6 billion in tax to the UK economy. 

If UK markets work well, competitively and fairly they benefit customers, staff and shareholders, and maintain confidence in the UK as a major global financial hub. Our role is to help make sure this happens.

How we operate

Our strategic objective is to make sure relevant markets function well. Our operational objectives are to:

We're an independent public body funded entirely by the fees we charge regulated firms. We are accountable to the Treasury, which is responsible for the UK’s financial system, and to Parliament.

Our work and purpose is defined by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA). We work with consumer groups, trade associations and professional bodies, domestic regulators, EU legislators and a wide range of other stakeholders. 

With this extensive remit, we use a proportionate approach to regulation, prioritising the areas and firms that pose a higher risk to our objectives.

How we measure our performance

We evaluate the effect our work has so that we can find ways to improve. 

Each year, we explain our priorities and the actions we will take in our Business Plan. And we describe the progress we’ve made against the Business Plan, how we use data and how we continue to pursue our statutory objectives in our Annual Report.

We measure our performance using service standards. These are the levels of performance that we aim to meet when carrying out our regulatory functions – we publish these as part of our commitment to be a transparent organisation.

We break down the service standards by the following categories:

  • Authorisations
  • Communications
  • Complaints about us
  • Listing
  • Notifications
  • Payment services regulations and electronic money regulations
  • Regulatory decisions
  • Customer satisfaction

The Authorisations Division also publishes quarterly key performance indicators (KPIs):

Page updates

22/11/2021: Editorial amendment General page updates.
15/07/2021: Information changed 60,000 to 51,000 firms and changes to employment and tax figures.
24/09/2020: Information changed Nearly 60,000
02/09/2020: Information changed Removed link to 2018-19 highlights video.