FCA stands for the Financial Conduct Authority. The Financial Conduct Authority is the regulatory body for financial services in the UK. They were established in April 2013, they act independently from the UK government and their operational objectives are to:
- Protect consumers – they secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers.
- Protect financial markets – they protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system.
- Promote competition – they promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
Why the FCA Exists
In basic terms, they exist in order to ensure that the UK’s financial markets remain honest, fair and effective so that consumers get a fair deal.
Most people in the UK have some form of financial product, whether it’s a mortgage, a bank account, a loan or a credit card. The FCA works to make sure that the providers of these financial products put their customers first, offer the right products to the right people and ensure that their customer’s best interests rank higher than their own profits.
Before a firm or individual can enter the financial market and offer products and services to consumers, the Financial Conduct Authority must thoroughly vet them before they authorise them. Those who are authorised are then monitored by the FCA and any who do not meet the standards can have fines imposed upon them, compensate consumers or ultimately be stopped from operating.
By making sure that consumers rights are protected, the FCA in turn is able to achieve one of their other operational objectives; Promote Competition. Firms need to ensure that they can be trusted by consumers and offer appropriate protection to them should something go wrong. Consumers then have the confidence to make choices and switch products between different providers. Firms therefore naturally encouraged to offer the best prices, service and quality that they can in order to win custom.
Checking Who’s Registered
Anyone can check if a firm or individual is authorised by the FCA, simply by checking the Financial Services Register. This is a public record of firms, individuals and other bodies that are, or have been, regulated by the FCA. The register can be easily searched by going the website https://register.fca.org.uk/ and entering the firm or individual’s name, reference number or postcode. You can also see if any firms have been providing regulated products or services without the correct authorisation, or if they’re deliberately running scams. They will be included on the register with prominent warnings.
It is always better to deal with financial service providers who are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. If they aren’t, you can’t be sure that the firm is playing by the rules and you won’t have any protection if things go wrong.« Back to Glossary Index