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BritainThinks conducted quantitative interviews with 145 of the FCA’s external stakeholders and further follow up of 42 of these stakeholders between January – March 2017. Participants included; trade associations, representative bodies and Parliamentarians.

Purpose of the research

To explore stakeholder perceptions of the FCA’s overarching reputation and communications since 2013.  Simultaneously, the research had a particular focus on measuring the impact of recent FCA actions and the primary challenges that lay ahead for the FCA in the coming year.

Key findings
  • Despite a drop in its reputation, the FCA’s overarching reputation is back to levels witnessed in previous years. Stakeholders have attributed this improvement to a perceived ‘steadying of the ship’ under new leadership.
  • FCA’s engagement efforts (particularly the consultation around the Mission) have been positively perceived. This is indicative that the regulator is genuinely listening to and understanding its stakeholders.
  • To date the FCA’s greatest success has been its customer protection objective. By comparison, it is difficult to pin down successes and vision in regards to market integrity and promoting completion.
  • Brexit is perceived as the biggest challenge fir the FCA with regards to complexity and workload.
Overarching reputation
  • Following a drop in its reputation score last year, the FCA’s overarching reputation score is back to levels of previous years. Stakeholders attribute this to ‘steadying of the ship’ under a new Chief Executive.
  • Consumer organisations rate the FCA most positively, followed by trade organisations.
  • Engagement efforts by CEO and consultation around the Mission evidence that the FCA is strategically moving in the right direction.
The mission
  • Serve the public interest through the objectives given to it by Parliament in the Financial Services Act 2012.
Perceptions of the FCA’s objective and priorities
  • Consumer protection continues to be viewed as the most important and best understood statutory objective.
    • Consumer protection is perceived to be what the FCA was most active and successful at in the past year. Examples include: Consumer vulnerability and short-term, high-cost credit.
  • Like last year, there is inconsistency with the stakeholders’ interpretation of the FCA’s objective of enhancing market integrity.
    • Majority believe it is about conduct and ethics in the industry.
    • Minority believe it is about resilience and functioning of the market.
  • Of all statutory objectives, stakeholders are least likely to say the FCA is delivering on promoting competition.
    • Stakeholders relate this to failure to a lack of clarity as to what exactly the FCA is aiming to achieve under this objective.
    • Perceptions of the FCA’s objective and priorities.
Perceptions of the FCA’s engagement and communications
  • Stakeholders continue to rate the FCA’s engagement and communications positively.
    • Trade bodies and consumer organisations are most likely to feel engaged by the FCA, pointing to effective and tailored forms of engagement, such as Consumer Network.
    • However media, think tanks and Parliamentary stakeholders are less likely to feel a close and positive personal relationship with the FCA.
  • Stakeholders continue to find the FCA’s communications consistent, clear and constructive. However, many feel they could be more concise and better tailored to a diverse range of organisations.
  • With regards to negative feelings, stakeholders stress it can be challenging finding the right team and individual at the FCA for tailored needs.
Looking to the future

Stakeholders are unanimous in believing Brexit will be the biggest issue facing the FCA in the next 12 months. Concerns fall into two categories:

  1. Practical concern of the ability to cope with increased workload
  2. Strategic concern of what the FCA’s role will be in shaping the industry post-Brexit.

There are four priorities for the FCA in relation to stakeholder engagement in the coming year:

  1. Following through with the Mission
  2. Improving access and visibility
  3. Clarity on objectives
  4. Capacity and agility during Brexit
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