LNB News 17/03/2020 76
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that it is ready to take any steps necessary to ensure customers are protected and markets continue to function well in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It has announced extensions in consultation/call for evidence response times and the delay of all publications due before end-June 2020. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and the Futures Industry Association (FIA) have also provided updates.
The FCA says it is working closely with the government, the Bank of England, the Payment Systems Regulator and firms, and sets out a number of ways in which it is considering action to help consumers. The FCA update sets out its expectations of firms as they deal with the outbreak, but also notes that it is reviewing its work plans so that it can delay or postpone activity which is not critical to protecting consumers and market integrity in the short-term. The FCA says this will allow firms to focus on supporting their customers during this difficult period. One of the immediate actions it is taking is to extend the closing date for responses to its open consultation papers and calls for input until 1 October 2020, and rescheduling most other planned work, particularly across a set of publications due before the end of June 2020. The website sets out the full list. The FCA is also scaling back its programme of routine business interactions, especially through meetings, so that it only contacts firms on business-critical requests and responses to the current situation.
The FCA says it will continue with a small number of regulatory changes which support consumers, ‘particularly the most vulnerable, or where major long-term programmes would be disrupted’.
The FCA webpage also sets out its preliminary work and thinking in relation to:
• impact on consumers
• unsecured debt products
• access to cash
• insurance products (health and travel)
• operational resilience
• market trading and reporting
UK Finance response
UK Finance welcomed the FCA’s updates, saying the steps being taken to help minimise demand on the industry’s existing capacity in the short term means that the industry’s focus can be ‘pointed toward customer-care strategies and the systems changes in organisations needed to facilitate this, helping support the real economy and protecting the resilience of the financial system’.
The FSCS update sets out how it is adapting staff working practices in light of the outbreak, but stresses that it is still open to review and issue decisions on claims. At present the FSCS says it is continuing to deliver its usual claims service in the usual timeframes, and will continue to make compensation payments in the usual way.
The FIA has created a dedicated coronavirus COVID-19 webpage, with FIA staff contact information and regularly updated guidance from global exchanges, central counterparties and regulators. The site also contains information and updates on upcoming FIA events and conferences to help with member planning.
The FIA says it has been closely monitoring the situation and working with members, regulators, industry associations and other similar groups to gather information and identify potential issues impacting markets. As a result, it has ‘several active workstreams in place across the FIA’s Operations, Legal and Risk Management committees and working groups to co-ordinate industry actions in response to COVID-19’.
FCA information for firms on coronavirus COVID-19 response
UK Finance responds to FCA information for firms on coronavirus COVID-19 response
FSCS open and fully operational