A Guide To The FCA (UK) aka Financial Conduct Authority Complaints Procedure

A Guide To The FCA (UK) aka Financial Conduct Authority Complaints Procedure

The United Kingdom is one of the most important financial centers in the world. Millions of traders flock to the London-based markets to trade currencies, stocks, bonds, commodities, etc. 

The sheer amount of trading activity demands for careful oversight to ensure the rights of all participants are safeguarded and a fair market is established. 

The governing body overseeing all financial markets in the UK is the Financial Conduct Authority, or the FCA, which also licenses and regulates brokerages in the country. 

It is inevitable that millions of people trading billions of pounds worth of financial products can lead to some misunderstandings and legal procedures, and the FCA is well-equipped to handle these complaints in a timely manner. 

If you are a trader that is considering trading in any of the UK’s developed financial markets, you may want to know how complaint handling procedures work at the FCA, and Investfox is here to guide you through the process.

What Is The FCA And What Does It Do?

Firstly, we must establish what the FCA is to know the extent of their responsibilities as it relates to the financial markets, as well as the checks and balances in place for the FCA to fulfill its regulatory duty. 

The FCA is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing and regulating financial markets and firms in the United Kingdom. It operates independently from the UK government and is accountable to the UK Treasury and Parliament. 

The primary goal of the FCA is to ensure that the financial markets operate in a fair, transparent, and efficient manner, and that consumers are protected from unfair practices and financial misconduct. 

Some key functions of the FCA include:

  • Regulation and Oversight - The FCA regulates a wide range of financial firms, including banks, investment firms, insurance companies, and other financial services providers. It sets rules and standards that these firms must adhere to, ensuring their conduct meets the requirements of fair treatment of customers and market integrity
  • Consumer Protection - The FCA aims to protect consumers by promoting competition and fair practices in financial markets. It works to ensure that consumers are provided with clear and accurate information about financial products and services, helping them make informed decisions
  • Market Integrity - The FCA strives to maintain the integrity of financial markets by monitoring trading activities and investigating potential market abuse, insider trading, and other misconduct that could undermine market confidence
  • Policy Development - The FCA develops and implements regulatory policies in response to changes in the financial landscape. This can involve introducing new rules, guidelines, or frameworks to address emerging risks and challenges

The FCA Complaints Procedure - Step By Step

The complaint handling procedure at the FCA is a multi-step process that seeks to deliver a fair and final verdict on the complaint to ensure the satisfaction of the parties involved. 

Once a formal complaint has been submitted, which can be done via an online form provided by the FCA, the general process of handling is conducted as follows:

  • The FCA acknowledges the complaint within 5 business days of receiving it 
  • The firm starts an investigation into the matter, the timeframe of which can vary, but the general provision states that an eight-week period is to be expected for the investigation to be finalized 
  • Once the investigation is complete, the firm will provide a response to the consumer. If the complaint is upheld, the firm will outline the proposed resolution, which might involve compensation, rectification, or other appropriate measures

Escalation To The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

If a consumer is not satisfied with the firm's response or if the firm fails to provide a response within the required time frame, the consumer has the right to escalate the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The FOS is an independent organization that provides dispute resolution services for consumers and financial firms.

Consumers can submit their complaint to the FOS, which will assess the case and provide a final and binding decision.

The FOS will then review the complaint and evidence provided by both the consumer and the firm. 

It will then issue a decision, which the firm is legally obligated to comply with. If the FOS finds in favor of the consumer, the firm may be required to provide compensation or take corrective actions.

The final response will either uphold the complaint or reject it and provide the reasoning behind the decision. 

Depending on the nature of the complaint, certain compensation limits may apply. 

Key Takeaways From A Guide To The FCA Financial Conduct Authority Complaints Procedure

  • The FCA is the regulatory body overseeing financial institutions and markets in the United Kingdom
  • The FCA has the authority to develop policies to protect consumers and ensure fair market operations and regulatory compliance 
  • When a complaint is issued to the FCA, the agency reviews and investigates the complaint within eight weeks and returns its decision to the client
  • If the client is unsatisfied with the FCA’s decision, they can appeal to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

FAQs On The FCA Complaint Procedure

Does the FCA handle client complaints?

Yes. The FCA has an online form that clients can use to file a complaint with the agency. Clients can also do so in writing, via the internet, or on the phone. 

The FCA will review the complaint within five business days and start an investigation if the complaint is valid. 

How long does it take for the FCA to review a complaint?

On average, it takes the FCA around eight weeks to finalize an investigation into a complaint and present a conclusion to the client. If the client is dissatisfied with the conclusion, they can escalate the complaint to a higher authority. 

Are FCA complaint decisions final?

No. Clients who are not satisfied with the decision of the FCA, can escalate the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), who will review the complaint, as well as the arguments of both parties to draw up a conclusion of their own.