Championing whistleblowing in the banking sector

Championing whistleblowing in the banking sector

 What action should financial services firms be taking to ensure they are providing suitable internal procedures to allow employees to blow the whistle? Jillian Naylor, employment law partner at Linklaters, considers the new rules from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and what it means to be a ‘whistleblowers’ champion’.

Original news

New rules for whistleblowing in deposit-takers, LNB News 06/10/2015 161

Following recommendations by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (PCBS) in 2013 that measures be put in place to allow banking employees to raise concerns internally, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) have published new rules on whistleblowing. Two separate policy statements detail the bodies’ expectations with regard to the new requirements. The new rules will come into effect in September 2016 and will apply to deposit takers with over £250m in assets and to insurers subject to the Solvency II Directive.

What is the background to the PRA’s proposals?

In 2013 the PCBS recommended that banks should ensure that they had internal procedures which allowed their employees to blow the whistle, and that a senior person should take responsibility for these procedures. In response, the FCA and PRA launched a consultation in February 2015 on a number of proposals as part of their drive to improve accountability and raise standards in financial services. The latest policy statements contain the new rules which have been developed following the consultation.

What are the main provisions on the policy statement?

The key points of the new regime are:

  • firms must appoint a senior manager (under the senior managers regime/senior insurance managers regime) who is a non-executive director to be a ‘whistleblowers’ champion’—the whistleblowers’ champion is responsible for oversight of the firm’s whistleblowing policies and procedures, and for ensuring an annual report on whistleblowing is presented to the board, and made available to the regulator
  • firms must put internal arrangements in place to handle any type of disclosure by any person (including anonymous disclosures), not just those which are currently caught by Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998—this means firms may potentially have to deal with disclosures by customers, and even employees of competitors
  • firms must put in place systems which can protect confidentiality, escalate concerns to the appropriate regulator or law enforcement agency, track the outcome of whistleblowing reports, provide feedback to whistleblowers and take reasonable steps to protect whistleblowers from victimisation
  • firms must inform the FCA/PRA if they lose an employment tribunal claim for whistleblowing where the fi

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