The campaign, ‘In confidence, with confidence’, encourages individuals working in financial services to report potential wrongdoing to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and reminds them of the confidentiality processes in place. As part of the campaign, the FCA has published materials for firms to share with employees, as well as using its events to highlight the campaign. It has also produced a digital toolkit for industry bodies, consumer groups and whistleblowing groups to encourage individuals to have confidence to step forward. Whistleblowers that report to the FCA will have a dedicated case manager. They can meet with the FCA to discuss their concerns and can receive optional regular updates throughout the investigation. Every report the FCA receives is reviewed and the FCA will protect individual whistleblowers’ identities.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA said: “We want all whistleblowers to feel welcomed by us and to feel safe because of us. We listen to all whistleblowers and, if they shine a light on serious misconduct, we want to make sure we act responsibly. When whistleblowing works well it helps consumers, markets and firms and keeps everyone safe and that is our aim.”
Speaking to the FCA
The FCA has been investing in increased resourcing to support whistleblower interaction, including increasing the headcount on its whistleblowing team. This specialist team are trained to debrief and interact directly with whistleblowers, as well as liaising with various departments across the organisation.
As part of the FCA’s aim to provide a smoother internal process, it has introduced a mandatory e-learning module for all staff, to help identify potential whistleblowers and make sure any intelligence received by the FCA is dealt with correctly and that identities are protected.
The FCA’s website has been updated to provide more comprehensive information for potential whistleblowers and the Whistleblowing team are developing a confidential web form, increasing the ways in which whistleblowers can make disclosures to them.
Individuals can choose to remain anonymous, and many people do. If they do share any information about themselves, then the FCA will keep this safe. This includes not confirming the existence of a whistleblower when making enquiries, unless legally obliged to do so.
FCA’s whistleblowing rules
The FCA would like to remind firms that culture and governance remain a key priority for the FCA. Its whistleblowing rules require firms to have effective arrangements in place for employees to raise concerns, and to guarantee these concerns are handled appropriately and confidentially.
The FCA introduced a requirement for firms to appoint a whistleblowers’ champion to make sure there is senior management oversight over the integrity, independence and effectiveness of the firm’s arrangements. These include those arrangements designed to protect whistleblowers from victimisation, as well as overseeing the preparation of an annual report to the firm’s governing body.