On March 17, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a new webpage with information on its COVID-19 response.

The FCA notes that it is monitoring COVID-19 and is prepared to take any necessary steps to ensure customers are protected and markets continue to function well. The FCA is in regular contact with firms to assess their current position and expects them to take reasonable steps to ensure they are prepared to meet the challenges COVID-19 poses to customers and staff.

The new webpage sets out responses to a variety of concerns. Key features include:

  1. Regulatory changes:
    1. the FCA may delay or postpone activities that are not critical to protecting consumers and market integrity. For example, the FCA is extending its closing date for responses to open consultation papers and calls for input until October 1, 2020 and rescheduling most other planned work;
    2. the FCA has also reduced its routine business interactions so that it only contacts firms on business-critical requests and responses to the current COVID-19 situation; and
    3. it will continue with a small number of regulatory changes that support consumers, particularly the most vulnerable, or where major long-term programs would be disrupted.
  2. Impact on consumers: the FCA welcomes firms taking initiatives to go “beyond usual business practices” to support their customers, such as waiving fees to individual savings accounts. Firms should notify the FCA of any business practices which go beyond the usual to support their customers, so the FCA can “consider the impacts and offer support as appropriate.”
  3. Market trading and reporting: the FCA expects firms to continue to record calls and asks them to notify the FCA if they cannot do this. The FCA also expects firms that have trouble submitting regulatory data to maintain appropriate records and submit the data as soon as possible.

The FCA plans to update the webpage and adapt its guidance for firms as the situation develops.

The FCA webpage is available here.