We are reporting on the whistleblowing disclosures made to us under the Prescribed Persons Regulations 2017, covering April 2022 to 31 March 2023.
Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA), a worker who makes a disclosure of information about wrongdoing, including to a Prescribed Person, can bring a claim for unfair dismissal or detriment at an Employment Tribunal, when they can demonstrate that any mistreatment was a result of their whistleblowing.
The protection only applies where the person who makes the disclosure reasonably believes:
- that they are acting in the public interest, which means that protection is not normally given for personal grievances
- that the disclosure is about one of:
- criminal offences (this includes financial improprieties, such as fraud)
- failure to comply with duties set out in law
- miscarriages of justice endangering someone’s health and safety
- damage to the environment
- covering up wrongdoing in any of these categories
A worker can make a disclosure to a Prescribed Person if they feel they cannot disclose directly to their employer, or where they have reported their concern to their employer but do not believe it has acted appropriately to address it.
Prescribed Persons with investigatory and regulatory functions, such as the FCA, can consider acting on the information that has been disclosed to them. The government guidance for Prescribed Persons gives further details of their responsibilities.
The FCA is a Prescribed Person as defined in The Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2014.
The Prescribed Persons Regulations 2017 came into force on 1 April 2017. Prescribed Persons are required to report annually on whistleblowing disclosures made to them.
We must report the following information:
- the number of disclosures we received
- the number of those disclosures where we decided to take further action
- a summary of the action we took in relation to the disclosures
- a summary of how workers' disclosures have impacted our ability to perform our functions and meet our objectives
- an explanation of our functions and objectives
This duty to report aims to increase transparency in the way that whistleblowing disclosures are dealt with and to reassure whistleblowers that their disclosures are taken seriously.
No information is included here that would enable whistleblowers or the subjects of disclosures to be identified.
1. Whistleblowing reports
We receive reports from whistleblowers via several channels, including a webform, email, telephone and through the post.
Between April 2022 and March 2023, we received and assessed 1,086 whistleblower reports with 2,743 separate allegations.
The numbers of reports have been broadly consistent over the last few years (2021-22: 1,041; 2020-21: 1,046; 2019-20: 1,153). The pandemic did not have a significant impact on reporting levels.
To date these 1,086 reports have led to:
• Significant action to manage harm in 6 cases – this may include enforcement action, a s166 Skilled Person’s Report, or restricting a firm’s or individual’s permissions.
• Action to reduce harm in 87 cases – this may include writing to or visiting a firm, asking it for information, or asking it to attest to complying with our rules.
• 136 cases informing our work, including harm prevention, but no direct action.
• 34 cases being considered not relevant to the prevention of harm.
• 808 cases remain under assessment, which means that they are being reviewed and/or acted on by the relevant teams across the FCA. A case is not closed down until we are sure that no further action is required, but this doesn’t mean we haven’t taken any action so far.
A whistleblower can choose to remain anonymous when making a report through any of our reporting channels. We want whistleblowers to feel comfortable when making a report so they can provide relevant and sufficient information to help our review of their concerns.
2. Whistleblowing allegations
Every report we receive will contain one or more allegations of wrongdoing.
3. Our approach to whistleblowing
Whistleblowing reports are a vital source of information for the FCA. They give us unique insight into the sectors and firms we regulate, helping us to do our job and protect consumers. Our approach to whistleblowing aims to support and encourage whistleblowers in several ways:
- Our dedicated Whistleblowing team focuses on engaging with whistleblowers. They ensure reports are captured and then directed to the right part of the FCA for assessment and consideration for further action.
- The Whistleblowing team remains in contact with whistleblowers throughout the handling of their case, when this is requested.
- We assess reports on their merits, with decisions on action taken according to the content of the disclosure and other information available to us.
- When whistleblowers request it and we can contact them, we provide feedback on the outcome of their report.
- We accept reports from individuals with a demonstrable need for the confidentiality that our whistleblowing processes provide, as well as from ‘workers’ or ‘former workers’ protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA).
- We have implemented rules and guidance for the firms we regulate on their internal whistleblowing arrangements.
All disclosures are reviewed by the appropriate teams within the FCA. Sometimes we are unable to act or respond directly to a whistleblowing disclosure. This may be because there is insufficient information, or our review does not identify any regulatory issues.
Such cases are nevertheless a valuable source of intelligence and are used to inform our understanding of a firm, sector or industry behaviour more generally. Whistleblowing reports are entered into our intelligence systems and anonymised to protect the presence and identity of whistleblowers.
Where we can act on a whistleblowing disclosure, possible actions include:
- requesting information about a firm’s processes and procedures for the purposes of a desk-based review
- firm visits and discussions
- setting out required actions for a specific Senior Management Function
- a s166 (Skilled Person) review
- removal of or changes to a firm’s permission or an individual’s approval
- Enforcement action, depending on the seriousness of the findings from the work undertaken
4. Whistleblower survey
We have recently published the result of a qualitative assessment of whistleblowers. We think the survey provides us with the foundation to provide further feedback to whistleblowers when our reviews are completed, which will include more detail about steps we have taken or reasons for taking or not taking action, as well as information about the outcome.
The Department for Business and Trade is currently reviewing the law in relation to whistleblower protections. The FCA will make a full contribution to this review to support the enhancement of the wider whistleblowing framework.
These anonymised examples are taken from several FCA-regulated sectors and are intended to highlight the value of whistleblower contributions to the day-to-day supervisory work of the FCA.
A whistleblower spoke directly with a FCA Supervision team about concerning cultural issues at a firm. This engagement made a significant contribution to the ongoing supervision of the firm.
Following a report from a whistleblower a firm agreed with FCA Supervision not to take on new clients and a remediation plan for existing clients.
Whistleblowing information led the FCA to discover serious regulatory issues at a firm. The FCA acted to prevent consumer harm.
Intelligence Department (Ref PIDA)
12 Endeavour Square London
FCA Whistleblowing Telephone Number: 020 7066 9200
Email: [email protected]