Whistleblowing in practice: Case studies

Are you thinking about blowing the whistle on wrongdoing? Find out how whistleblowing can help the FCA to act. 

Whistleblowing information gives us an insight into what’s happening in the markets we regulate. We can only act on what we know – so any information that you provide allows us to consider potential risks.

Hundreds of people make whistleblowing reports to the FCA every year. Find out more about the type of issues that employees speak to us about, or learn how to make a report.

What people blow the whistle about

We receive whistleblowing reports about:

  • mis-selling
  • money laundering
  • fitness and propriety
  • systems and controls
  • unauthorised business

If you think a firm or individual is involved in wrongdoing within an area we regulate, you can report it confidentially by contacting our Whistleblowing team by:

  • phone: +44 (0)20 7066 9200 during office hours or leave a message
  • email: [email protected]
  • post: Intelligence Department (Ref PIDA), Financial Conduct Authority, 12 Endeavour Square, London, E20 1JN

You can blow the whistle and stay anonymous. Whistleblowers who choose to remain anonymous via email or telephone, will receive a reference number which they can use when contacting the FCA anonymously again.

We can arrange to meet with you if you would like to discuss your concerns further in person. Before meeting with you we may require you to provide some information about yourself. To find out more, please contact the Whistleblowing team on the contact details above.

Find out more about how to blow the whistle.

You can contact the PRA for any wrongdoing related to prudential issues in a PRA-regulated firm.

We will not confirm the existence of a whistleblower outside of the FCA so you can feel confident about your identity remaining secure when approaching us with your concerns. 

Whistleblowing case studies

Find out about some typical case studies based on real incidents the Whistleblowing team has handled, including:

All details in the case studies have been anonymised.

Mis-selling

What happened:

The whistleblower: Steve had concerns about the mis-selling of specific types of insurance in his workplace. He tried to speak to his manager and other colleagues but he didn’t feel listened to and became increasingly uncomfortable at work.

Steve decided to speak to the FCA after seeing a poster at work. He rang the Whistleblowing team and spoke to a team member about how the FCA would handle his concern and, importantly, keep his identity protected. 

Once Steve had been reassured, he shared further details about what had been happening at work, the training he had received, the products of concern and why he felt there had been mis-selling. Steve provided all details during one phone call. Although he was initially nervous to speak to the FCA, once Steve had told someone about his concerns he felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

What we did:

The FCA Whistleblowing team: The Whistleblowing team member explained that, if needed, they would contact Steve again to get any more information they needed. Steve was told that once his report had been reviewed by the most relevant team, he would find out if the FCA had been able to develop upon his concerns. The Whistleblowing team member also advised Steve that they would be his contact throughout the review process. 

After a few months, Steve received feedback from the Whistleblowing team member that, following his disclosure, the FCA had made more enquiries with his firm. 

The FCA supervisor: "We receive information from many different sources, but whistleblowing intelligence is valuable and can help us to get to the heart of an issue quickly. In this case, I used the information provided by the whistleblower, about the mis-selling of insurance and inadequate training being provided to employees, to request information from the firm about their practices and procedures (for advising customers and their training and competence arrangements). 

"Knowing the nature of the concerns allowed me to ask questions of the firm and to request information without compromising the whistleblower. I was able to do this quickly too. When I had received the information from the firm, it was clear I needed to carry out further work with the firm to address the potential harms, and mitigate the risk to consumers."

Anti-money laundering (AML) checks

What happened:

The whistleblower: Aisha works for an investment company and raised concerns in the workplace about the way that her firm’s anti-money laundering checks were being completed following a recent change in process. She had worked for the firm for many years and didn’t expect any retaliation for raising concerns. But Aisha found that she was excluded from meetings and her performance review rating was lowered without explanation. 

Aisha decided to contact us about what was happening. Her original concerns about the anti-money laundering checks were still ongoing and she feared commenting anymore at work.

What we did:

The FCA Whistleblowing team: The Whistleblowing team member explained that the FCA would try to understand what was happening in relation to both the anti-money laundering issues raised and Aisha’s potential detriment to see what action was required.

The FCA supervisor: "Approaching issues about a fund can be more straightforward and expected by the firm.

"Separately, I also made enquiries with the firm about their whistleblowing function and considered the Senior Managers and Certification Regime that applies to the firms we regulate.”"The whistleblowing intelligence helped me to identify when the changes had been made. I could then request more information to ensure the approaches the firm were using were compliant. 

Reporting the conduct of a Senior Manager

What happened:

The whistleblower: Sara wanted to make a whistleblowing report about the activities of a Senior Manager, which she suspected to be unethical. She had serious concerns about her employer finding out that she had made a report because she lives locally and with her family. 

Sara spoke to the Whistleblowing team and provided high-level information to summarise her initial concerns.

What we did:

The FCA Whistleblowing team: The Whistleblowing team member explained that Sara will remain anonymous and could make future contact with the team by identifying herself using only a specific/unique reference number. 

The Whistleblowing team member took time to ensure Sara shared as much relevant information as possible to help the FCA with their future assessment. The team member also explained that understanding how they could approach the firm, without revealing Sara’s identity, was important and Sara provided some guidance on this. After the call, Sara felt relieved. Being able to remain anonymous was a key issue for her.

The FCA supervisor: "Ensuring we had as much information as possible was important in this case. The whistleblower choosing to remain anonymous wasn’t a problem. This is quite common and we understand the reassurance that this provides. Taking the time to understand the potentially fraudulent activity, and how we could make enquiries without presenting a risk to the whistleblower, was equally important. 

"It is important that all firms have a culture that encourages employees to raise their concerns. Receiving whistleblowing intelligence helps us to address wrongdoing and any failures to treat whistleblowers properly. I work closely with the Whistleblowing team in these cases to ensure that any enquiries I make do not place whistleblowers at risk.

"In this case, I made enquiries with the firm about their policies initially. I used this as a way to start conversations with the firm about the culture and Senior Managers at the firm."

 

Contact the FCA Whistleblowing team

call: +44 (0)20 7066 9200 during office hours or leave a message
email: [email protected]
write to: Intelligence Department (Ref PIDA), Financial Conduct Authority, 12 Endeavour Square, London, E20 1JN 
Please note, we record all calls to make sure we have captured your information correctly.