Regulation and Compliance
Regulation and compliance is an essential part of the financial services industry. All firms within the industry are regulated, which means that they must work to specific regulations and by the book. If boundaries are crossed and foul play is spotted then firms can find themselves facing legal action.
In the UK, there are regulating bodies in existence. They’re there to keep these companies in check and ensure correct conduct and integrity is upheld in financial services and markets, and that consumers are protected.
Regulation and compliance: Time for big change
Regulators will play a key part in the current and future changes in the financial industry, supporting the cultural change in the industry following the financial crisis.
The regulator for the UK financial services industry is the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It’s their job to make sure that individuals and firms aren’t abusing the markets or mistreating customers, to promote effective competition, and to take appropriate action if evidence of that is found. Professionals working for the FCA investigate into issues surrounding this practice, as well as companies’ business models.
The Financial Services Act 2012
The Financial Services Act authorised the FCA with new powers. The FCA states that they have the authority to “fine, suspend, prohibit, order injunctions, bring criminal prosecutions or take other action to prevent market abuse, such as insider dealing,” and “make a public announcement when we begin disciplinary action against a firm or individual and publish details of warning notices”.
The Financial Services Act also brought the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) into being. The PRA is a part of the Bank of England and works in conjunction with the FCA, regulating banks, credit unions, insurers, building societies and investment firms.
Where could I work in regulation and compliance?
Both the FCA and PRA offer opportunities for graduates. They run rotational programmes that allow the chance to experience life in a number of their departments.
You could be spending time investigating reports of market abuse, interviewing firm representatives and individuals, analysing companies’ risk management, accompanying FCA risk officers to meetings, working on projects related to legislation and policy and communicating information to firms.
What’s exciting about a position on the side of the regulator is that you’ll be working with firms of all sizes, and cases you work on often make the national news. What’s more, you’re contributing to the reshaping of the whole financial industry – no mean feat!
As you work up the ranks, you can reach management levels and lead teams on investigations.
Business, economics, politics and law are all highly relevant degree subjects for roles with the FCA and PRA and can be an advantage, but you can apply for these opportunities from any degree background. It will, however, be necessary to have at least a 2:1, and usually at least 300 UCAS points at A-level or equivalent.
If you’d like to work for a regulator, you need to possess the ability to work objectively and demonstrate sound judgement, the ability to make difficult decisions and be analytical. Natural curiosity and excellent commercial awareness (of course!) are essential.