The FCA "Dear CEO" Letter: Inappropriate Use of Title Transfer
Did you receive and action the "Dear CEO" letter from the FCA, dated 9th July 2020? We hope so.
'Portfolio strategy letter for payment services firms and e-money issuers - We expect you to act to prevent harm to your customers.'
It explained that the FCA expected every UK regulated business to take appropriate action and be ready to explain what they did when the FCA makes contact with individual organisations.
Directors and the boards must be able to demonstrate compliance with FCA requirements and what actions the board has taken to ensure its customers are adequately protected in the areas that they highlighted. Failing to meet FCA requirements or breaching a Principle could lead to FCA disciplinary sanctions.
We should all be concerned about the FCA letter, not least as the FCA highlights its concerns and the main areas in which it sees failings. It is clear from the letter that there are real issues with respect to customers not being sufficiently protected.
These concerns have increased with increasing business failures, compounded by Covid-19, but also as the 'new breed' of authorised firms 'let into the fold' to try and boost innovation and competition have started to fail because their business practices and resilience may be as wanting as their compliance and customer protection.
We urge everyone to refresh themselves with the contents of the FCA letter and to check in particular that the requirements on protecting customer funds (safeguarding arrangements)
But as the FCA explains, financial promotions and customer communication, combatting financial crime and even prudential risk management all fall strongly within the remit of the issues that the FCA expects us to be able to answer to; and for which the FCA may start to take action if insufficient progress is made.
We talk to people widely across the payments sector and are astounded by the inability of newly licenced businesses to understand and adhere to regulatory requirements. They do apply to everyone and we do need to know what we are doing. If we have any sort of licence, then we cannot defend ourselves to the FCA with claims of being unaware of the requirements.
And the bigger we get, especially when we have a market presence, and even more so whilst if we are in a 'cash-burn' / funded stage of development, the more likely it is that we need to operate to the FCA requirements. Increasingly safeguarding, governance and financial crime strategies have become more critical.
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