The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published guidance to assist firms in managing regulatory issues in the climate of Covid-19.
The key messages from the FCA are that it expects firms to take 'reasonable steps' to ensure they can meet current challenges, provide support and service to customers, and communicate with the regulator if they are in difficulty.
If firms are operating from alternative sites or utilising working-from-home arrangements, they must consider the control environment in these new circumstances. The FCA accepts that not all regulatory requirements (e.g. call recording) may be able to be immediately met, but says that firms need to make it aware if they cannot comply with requirements and take steps to mitigate risks (e.g. applying enhanced monitoring) if voice recording cannot take place. The FCA will be monitoring for market abuse and threats to market integrity.
The guidance provided by the FCA encourages focus on treatment of customers as well as swift dialogue with the regulator if firms have concerns that they may not be able to meet all regulatory requirements.
The guidance is high level but helpful in terms of acknowledging the challenges facing the industry at this time, whilst still warning of the FCA focus on treatment of customers and market integrity. Firms should monitor this page for updates from the FCA on these issues.
The FCA stands ready to take any steps necessary to ensure customers are protected and markets continue to function well.