Financial Conduct Authority
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New measures to help small firms from FSA

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) today announced it is introducing new measures to increase its contact with small firms. The aim is to help firms make faster progress in meeting the FSA's Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) initiative and to identify, more quickly, those firms most in need of regulatory attention.

Building on its current risk-based approach, the FSA is introducing an ongoing programme of structured visits and/or telephone assessments to test the quality of management and progress towards embedding TCF. The results will help inform its risk profile of individual firms so that it can better target resources at the firms that pose the biggest risk to its objectives. The FSA expects to carry out full on-site visits to approximately a quarter of firms in order to verify the assessments and follow-up identified issues.

Speaking at a Forum at the FSA's Edinburgh Office, Hector Sants, Chief Executive of the FSA, said these assessments will provide direct benefit to those firms who are trying to do the right thing and treat their customers fairly, and are in addition to the help it already gives to small firms.

Hector Sants said:

"We want to help small firms better assist their customers, many of whom are seeking advice on some of the biggest financial commitments they will ever make. Firms' management must ensure that the FSA's TCF initiative runs through every aspect of their businesses.

"Small firms are making progress on TCF, but we would like to help them accelerate the process. We are therefore increasing the contact we have with small firms to improve the rate of this change and to enable them to better help their customers."

Ninety per cent of the firms regulated by the FSA are small. It uses data supplied by firms and other sources to give an overview of each small firm and to spot industry trends, in particular to identify issues that might pose risks to consumers. It also uses firm visits and telephone assessments to supervise individual firms or as part of FSA thematic work, and to inform its firm education and communication tools.

The FSA has already set a deadline of end-December 2008, by which time it expects all firms to be able to demonstrate that they are treating their customers fairly. The programme of assessments will extend beyond this deadline to inform its on-going supervision strategy.

Notes to editors

  1. Hector Sants spoke at an FSA Forum held at the FSA's offices in Edinburgh on Tuesday 2 October 2007.
  2. The FSA is committed to providing help to small firms and making the FSA easier to do business with. It has already introduced targeted information and resources for small firms as part of this work which includes small firms application packs, a single invoice for all fees, payments by instalments, e-learning packages, a more targeted website for small firms (www.fsa.gov.uk/smallfirms), roadshows, surgeries and improvements to the Firm Contact Centre.
  3. The FSA regulates the financial services industry and has four objectives under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000: maintaining market confidence; promoting public understanding of the financial system; securing the appropriate degree of protection for consumers; and fighting financial crime.
  4. The FSA aims to promote efficient, orderly and fair markets, help retail consumers achieve a fair deal and improve its business capability and effectiveness.

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