Market abuse has been brought into sharper focus since the pandemic with the FCA warning firms and individuals alike that, notwithstanding the demands of the current unusual circumstances, they will clamp down on abuse where they find it.
In October 2020, the Director of Market Oversight at the FCA, Julia Hoggett, warned of the risks associated with remote working – and said in terms that the FCA's expectation was that "going forward, office and working from home arrangements should be equivalent [...]. We expect firms to have updated their policies, refreshed their training and put in place rigorous oversight reflecting the new environment [...]. The regulatory obligations have not changed, the how may be changing, but the what remains the same."
On Friday 8 January 2021 the FCA updated its Coronavirus (Covid-19): Information for firms guidance webpage in respect of voice recordings when remote working by telling firms that "we now expect you to record all relevant communications (including voice calls) when working outside the office."
Given the FCA's previous messaging regarding its expectations concerning controls in this area, this latest update should come as no surprise.
Given the extensive duration of these [remote working] arrangements, we now expect you to record all relevant communications (including voice calls) when working outside the office. You should continue to take all steps to prevent market abuse risks. This could include enhanced monitoring, or retrospective reviews. We will continue to monitor for market abuse and, if necessary, take action.