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Financial Services analysis: Sara Cody, Counsel PSL in the Financial Regulation Group at Linklaters, and a consulting editor of LexisPSL Financial Services, outlines the priorities for FCA Enforcement in the year ahead, considers the impact of
the Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SM&CR) and discusses trends in FCA investigations.
Key areas of focus in the coming year are likely to include operational resilience and cyber-security, along with anti-money laundering (AML) and a continued focus on culture.
It’s quite interesting to consider how culture feeds into enforcement, as opposed to being a broader supervisory concern. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) can’t simply fine a firm for bad culture; it’s too nebulous. However,
the FCA can fine firms for decisions and practices that arise out of a poor culture, such as sales procedures that fail to put the customer first. Last year, for example, we saw the FCA cite an aggressive sales culture as a factor in its decisions
to fine Standard Life and Prudential for mis-selling annuities, and Carphone Warehouse for mis-selling insurance. In these cases, the FCA found evidence
of a high pressure sales environment — such as offering low base pay supplemented by high bonuses to reflect sales success, sales league tables on the office wall or rewards of spa breaks and weekend getaways for those who generated the
most revenue — all things that are likely to remove any incentive for sales teams to ensure that customers actually want or need the product you are selling.
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