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FCA whistleblowing review

20 November 2018

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards Report of 2013 represented an attempt to clean up the attitudes and practices of the financial services sector. One particular area earmarked for change was the treatment of whistleblowing. This prompted the FCA to publish the whistleblowing rules, effective from September 2016. The FCA has now carried out a review of how the rules have been implemented by retail and wholesale banks.

The FCA are encouraged to find that the implementation of the new rules has encouraged financial institutions to manage whistleblowing cases and concerns fairly, consistently and in a manner that protects the individual whistleblower. It is noted that non-executive directors have been appointed by certain firms in order to provide independent accountability and to raise the profile of whistleblowing.

Although there are a number of examples of good practice, there are also some areas where improvement is needed, most notably in areas such as training and the requirement to produce an annual whistleblowing report for the firm’s governing body. Firms need to make sure that they improve the way that they record whistleblowing and the practical ways in which they can protect whistleblowers from victimisation.

The FCA expects senior management to ensure that firms put in place effective whistleblowing policies and continually assess how these arrangements work in practice. Although progress has clearly been made, this remains a live issue and there is plenty of room to improve. Since the FCA will continue to monitor this area, all those involved in financial services at relevant firms need to be alive to the requirements regarding whistleblowing and protecting whistleblowers.

Browne Jacobson can advise upon corporate policies and procedures relating to the whistleblowing rules as well as other FCA requirements.

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