About the FCA

We regulate the conduct of nearly 50,000 businesses in the UK to ensure that our financial markets are honest, competitive and fair. Find out more about our role.

Our role

Financial markets must be honest, fair and effective so consumers get a fair deal. We work to ensure that these markets work well for individuals, for businesses and for the economy as a whole. 

We do this by:  

  • regulating the conduct of nearly 50,000 businesses 
  • prudentially supervising 46,000 firms 
  • setting specific standards for around 17,000 firms 

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

Our Head Office is based in London, but we also work across the UK, from our offices in Leeds and Edinburgh and via colleagues in Belfast and Cardiff.

How we regulate

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

Before we grant authorisation, firms must demonstrate that they meet a range of requirements. We then supervise these firms to make sure they continue to meet our standards and rules after they’re authorised. If firms and individuals fail to meet these standards, we have a range of enforcement powers we can use.  

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. 

Why we do it

Financial services play a critical role in the lives of everyone in the UK, from junior 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 about £75 billion in tax per year. Based on our policy and enforcement work, we estimate that we add at least £11 of benefits to consumers and small businesses for every pound we spend.  

If UK markets work well, competitively and fairly they benefit customers, staff and shareholders, and maintain confidence in the UK as a global financial hub.

How we operate

Our strategic objective is to make sure relevant markets function well. We’ve outlined how we will achieve this objective in our 3-year Strategy.  

Our operational objectives are to: 

We also have a secondary objective to facilitate the international competitiveness and growth of the UK economy in the medium to long term.  

We're an independent public body funded largely by the fees we charge regulated firms. Our role is defined by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) and we’re accountable to the Treasury, which is responsible for the UK’s financial system, and to Parliament.

We work with consumer groups, trade associations and professional bodies, domestic regulators, international partners and a wide range of other stakeholders.

We have a large and growing remit, and use a proportionate approach to regulation. We do this by prioritising the areas and firms that pose a higher risk to our objectives. 

How we measure our performance 

Every year, we outline the actions we’ll take to achieve our objectives in our Business Plan and we describe the progress we’ve made in our Annual Report

We also publish a list of our multi-year outcomes and metrics that we use to measure our progress and against which we hold ourselves accountable.  

We measure our performance using operating service metrics (formerly known as service standards). These are the metrics that we aim to meet when carrying out our work. We publish these as part of our commitment to be a transparent organisation

The Authorisations Division also publishes key performance indicators (KPIs).

Page updates

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: Editorial amendment Updates to align with Business Plan and Strategy.
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: Information changed 60,000 to 51,000 firms and changes to employment and tax figures.
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: Information changed Removed link to 2018-19 highlights video.