Business Plan 2021/22

Business plans Published: 15/07/2021 Last updated: 16/07/2021

Our Business Plan 2021/22 explains how we see our future role and priorities, how we intend to deliver them and how we will measure our performance.

 

This summary outlines some of the key work we’ll be doing over the following year.

See our Business Plan in full (PDF).

Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive

Nikhil Rathi, FCA Chief Executive

Coronavirus has shown the need to adapt our priorities as the world changes. We often make complex trade-offs, so it’s important we clearly explain why we have chosen our main priorities.

Profound forces are transforming the entire landscape of financial services. So we need to change the way we do things, and in some cases what we do. We are becoming a different organisation; we must continue to become a forward-looking, proactive regulator. 

Through the pandemic, we acted with confidence, energy and effectiveness to stand up for consumers and businesses all over the UK. This year, we will harness that drive, dedication and decisiveness and direct it towards our longer-term challenges. We will be more innovative, more assertive and more adaptive. 

Read our Chief Executive's message in full (PDF) 

Webinar: the FCA’s role and Business Plan

Nikhil sets out our role, explaining how we will keep pace with technological change and adjust to economic challenges.

Watch the on-demand webinar

 

We are changing: Business Plan 2021/22

We are changing

The environment in which we are operating is changing rapidly. This reflects economic, technological and social changes, as well as the challenges of the pandemic and our exit from the EU. We need to transform so that we can deliver our goals. 

We have 2 key tasks – to make markets work better and to stop and prevent serious misconduct that leads to harm. The organisation is transforming to achieve these goals – investing in new technology and making better use of data, supporting our people and changing our culture, working in partnership with other organisations in the UK and globally. We are committing to clear measures so we can be held accountable for our progress.

Our role chapter explains more about the long-term changes we’re making to meet future challenges.

Read our role chapter (PDF)

Consumer priorities: Business Plan 2021/22
Below is an outline of some of our key activities for the following year. Please see our Business Plan 2021/22 for full details of these, and other important areas of our work, as well as how we will measure how well we achieve them.

 

Our consumer priorities

We want to ensure that firms provide better outcomes for consumers, and that consumers are better able to make informed choices.

Read our consumer priorities chapter in full (PDF)

Enabling consumers to make effective investment decisions 

Between March and October 2020, the number of adults with low financial resilience increased by 3.5 million to 14.2 million - 27% of UK adults

We can better improve firms’ conduct when consumers are informed and empowered to choose the right products and services for them, at the right price. So we will: 

  • consult on our proposed changes to strengthen the rules for firms that approve financial promotions  
  • launch a 5-year campaign to inform consumers about high-risk investments and what is and isn’t protected 
  • publish our Consumer Investments Strategy, setting out the work we’ll deliver for retail investors 

Ensuring consumer credit markets work well

We want borrowers to be treated fairly and be able to get affordable products that meet their needs. We will stamp out poor practice and encourage competition by: 

  • monitoring how firms support customers in financial difficulty and take action where needed. We will also carry out an in-depth assessment of whether consumers are getting fair and appropriate outcomes and use these findings to shape our next steps
  • reviewing our rules on debt advice to ensure consumers get high-quality debt advice and to help us decide if we need to change the rules
  • work with the Treasury on developing new rules for the Deferred Payment Credit sector
  • re-starting our postponed market study into credit information, to assess how consumers use their credit information and publish our interim findings

The graph below shows how the number of adults showing characteristics of vulnerability increased during the pandemic.

Chart

Data table

Download

Making payments safe and accessible

84% of consumers made a contactless payment in the 12 months to February 2020, up from 63% in 2017; 55% did so more frequently in October 2020 compared with February 2020

The payments services sector continues to evolve rapidly, which we hope will give both consumers and smaller businesses a wide variety of safe payment services. But innovation in this sector, such as cryptoassets, carries risks. We are also concerned about the pandemic’s impact on the financial strength of payment services firms. We will: 

  • use targeted communications, proactive reviews of firms' arrangements and safeguarding audits to raise standards of safeguarding and wind-down planning, identifying at-risk firms as a priority 
  • closely supervise bank branch closures, working with the Government and industry to maintain access to cash and with the Government as it develops legislation 

Delivering fair value in a digital age 

The UK FinTech market's revenue rose to £11bn in 2019 - almost doubling in only 4 years and accounting for almost 10% of the global total that is expected to grow to £380bn by 2030

Fair value is key to competition and to consumer trust in financial services. To ensure all consumers, especially those with characteristics of vulnerability, have fair access to key, good value products and services, we will: 

  • implement our pricing and automatic renewal remedies in January 2022 
  • develop a digital markets strategy  
  • investigate harmful business practices to establish how common and harmful they are to consumers and stop them 

The new Consumer Duty 

Our wholesale market priorities: Business Plan 2021/22

In May 2021, we consulted on a new Consumer Duty. This would set clearer and higher standards for firms’ culture and conduct to help ensure they put their customers’ interests at the centre of their business models. This includes in firms’ communications to consumers, the way they design their products and services, including customer service, and ensuring they provide fair value. We will: 

  • consider the responses when the consultation ends on 31 July and consult on any proposed rule changes by the end of 2021 

 

 

Our wholesale market priorities

Much of our work here is focused on market integrity, which underpins confidence, trust and levels of participation in wholesale markets.

Read our wholesale priorities chapter in full (PDF)

Reviewing our rules in primary and secondary markets

Over £5.5 billion in equity capital was raised in UK markets during the first quarter of 2021, more than double the amount raised in the same period last year

Now the UK has left the EU, we want to tailor our rules better to suit UK markets, while maintaining high and internationally consistent standards at least equivalent to those in the EU. We: 

  • intend to finalise listing rules for SPACs in Q3 2021, and our further Listing Rule proposals before the end of calendar year 2021  
  • will continue amending our listing rules to support the Government’s ‘Roadmap’ towards mandatory Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)-aligned disclosures across the economy  
  • will continue our work with the Treasury on legislative and FCA rule changes to simplify the complex rules around pre- and post-trade transparency in securities and derivatives markets 

Completing the transition from LIBOR

Firms and markets must complete an orderly transition away from sterling LIBOR to alternative risk-free rates, treating customers fairly throughout. To help ensure this happens, we: 

  • Are consulting on requiring firms to publish the most commonly used sterling and yen LIBOR settings on a ‘synthetic’ basis, under our new powers in the 2021 Financial Services Act. 
  • Will work with the PRA and Bank of England to monitor the progress of firms’ transition plans. We will also continue to support collective action by market participants to move business formerly concentrated on LIBOR to SONIA and other risk-free rates.  
  • Will continue to closely coordinate with overseas authorities around transition for both new business and dealing with legacy issues.

Tackling market abuse and financial crime

Clean markets are essential for all participants to have confidence using them. We want regulated firms to prevent market abuse and reduce the risks of financial crime. We will: 

  • continue to allocate significant resource to monitor the transactions in financial instruments reported to us, assess Suspicious Transaction and Order Reports and follow up intelligence from whistleblowers on financial crime or fraud 

Improving asset management and non-bank finance

The UK investment management sector manages the savings and pensions of millions of people both in the UK and globally. We want firms to offer products that are fair value, meet investors’ needs and provide appropriate protection. We also want asset managers to manage liquidity in funds to avoid unnecessary risks. We will: 

  • increase our supervision of whether asset managers present the environmental, social and governance (ESG) properties of funds fairly, clearly and in ways that are not misleading
  • continue to identify funds that are outliers to their peers to understand why, and work with the fund Authorised Fund Manager and Depositary to take action where needed
  • following our consultation, we will design the LTAF fund structure through which investors can invest in less liquid assets. We will also decide whether to proceed with requirements for notice periods for open ended property funds
  • following international discussion through FSB and IOSCO, we will also consider and recommend amendments to the regulatory framework for money market funds

Ensuring people can choose appropriate pension products

70% of people who have not yet retired have a pension in accumulation

We want to ensure that pension providers offer good value products, and that consumers can use guidance and support to help them make effective choices. Focusing on product design for those saving into a pension, we will:  

  • seek views on how we can best increase value for money in pensions
  • consult on changes for non-workplace pension providers to help ensure consumers are offered an appropriate default solution
  • assess the effectiveness of our rules to help consumers make choices at the point of retirement
  • implement the nudge to Pension Wise and support cross-government work to create pensions dashboards

Raising standards in the Appointed Representatives regime

Our priorities across all markets: Business Plan 2021/22

Many principal firms have poor due diligence and oversight of their ARs. To ensure principals and ARs are competent, financially stable and ensure fair outcomes for consumers, we will: 

  • increase our supervision to reduce the most significant risks from ARs in wholesale markets  
  • consult on cross-sector changes to improve and strengthen the elements of the AR regime     

 

 

Our priorities across all markets

We also work in many areas across markets to tackle wider issues and influence change. These are some of the most important cross-market issues we will address over the coming year.

Read our priorities across all markets chapter in full (PDF)

Diversity and inclusion 

Diversity and inclusion can reduce groupthink, encourage debate and innovation and thereby improve outcomes.

Evidence shows a positive relationship between financial performance and gender and ethnic diversity in executive teams. Both we and financial services firms need to better represent the society we serve. We will:

  • continue to publish key indicators of diversity in the FCA   
  • develop how we measure firms’ progress against diversity outcomes to ensure a consistent approach across financial services 

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) 

2020 saw inflows of more than £200 billion to European sustainable funds, almost double that seen in 2019

Financial services and markets are central to the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy. We will support the Government’s commitment to achieving a net-zero economy by 2050 by adapting our regulatory framework to enable a market-based transition to net-zero by:

  • consulting on new disclosure rules for asset managers, life insurers and FCA-regulated pension schemes. We are also consulting on extending our existing TCFD-aligned Listing Rule to more issuers
  • continuing to collaborate domestically, supporting the Government’s 2019 Green Finance Strategy and plans announced by the Treasury in July 2021 to implement economy-wide Sustainability Disclosure Requirements for businesses and investment products, and a new sustainable investment label

Our international priorities

International cooperation with other supervisors and global standard-setting bodies is more important than ever. We will: 

We cooperate so firms can’t avoid regulation by taking advantage of different countries’ rules.
  • maintain our active partnerships and memberships of global standard-setting bodies and regulatory partners  
  • ensure the temporary permissions regime (TPR) operates smoothly and assess overseas firms in the TPR to ensure they can comply with the onshored rulebook, before all firms leave the regime by the end of 2023
  • provide technical advice to the Government as it develops mechanisms for cross-border market access in financial services 

Fraud strategy

We aim to use our authority and influence to work with our partners to help drive down fraud. We will: 

Tackling fraud requires a collective effort.
  • carry out proactive surveillance and monitoring, with clear prioritising so that we can intervene more quickly and decisively 
  • disrupt the work of fraudsters, and identify the right intervention – whether by the FCA, or by our counter-fraud partners  
  • remove fraudsters who are FCA-supervised from the financial services system 
  • work closely with our anti-fraud partners to maximise our collective fight against fraud, such as the PSR’s work on Authorised Push Payment fraud 

Financial resilience and resolution

We want better awareness of those firms most likely to fail so that we can reduce the harm from their failure.

When firms fail, we want to ensure they do so in an orderly way. To do this, we need to be better aware of which firms are likely to fail so that we can reduce the harm failure can cause. We will: 

  • introduce the Investment Firms Prudential Regime for investment firms, and support firms as they adapt to it 
  • continue to strengthen our data-driven monitoring of the financial resilience of solo-regulated firms, targeting our interventions at firms with weak financial resilience and those whose failure is likely to cause material harm  
  • review key aspects of the compensation framework to ensure it remains appropriate and proportionate 

Operational resilience 

Firms should be operationally resilient against disruption to minimise the harm caused to consumers and markets. We will: 

  • assess firms’ progress in implementing the new operational resilience requirements and identify areas for improvement
  • assess how able firms are to remain within their impact tolerances. This will help us evaluate how effective our work to improve the operational resilience of the financial sector has been

 

Our Business Plan explains how we will measure how well we are achieving against these outcomes to ensure we are as transparent and accountable as possible. We will build on these metrics as our transformation progresses to ensure we are responding and adapting effectively to both existing challenges and those ahead.