The FCA has today launched its Business Plan 2023/24, outlining its regulatory priorities, concerns and objectives for the coming 12 months.

The wide-ranging plan seeks to further the regulator’s ongoing mission to improve customer outcomes and promote greater accountability within financial services, whilst also seeking to address the significant volatility and financial hardship that have plagued the UK consumers over the past year.

Here’s the key takeaways from this year’s flagship announcement:

Addressing the cost-of-living challenges

The 2023/24 period marks the second 12-month cycle of the FCA’s three-year 2022-2025 Business Strategy, which was first published in April last year. The strategy is primarily focused on preventing serious harm to consumers, raising customer care standards and promoting competition within the industry.

Commenting on the scheme’s progress in the press release accompanying the latest business plan, FCA Chief Executive Nikhil Rathi said: “We set out a bold vision last year of what we wanted the FCA to be, and we are well underway to achieving our objectives thanks to our talented colleagues and the better use of technology and data across our organisation.

“With many consumers across the UK struggling with the cost of living and markets events causing concern, we have put in place vital changes over the past few years which mean we’re better set up to face these challenges.”

The plan specifically highlights continuing inflation, the risk of worsening unemployment and the potential for a further decline in expendable income for British households among the most pressing uncertainties now facing the financial sector.

Focusing on data and technology

The 2023/24 Business Plan cements the FCA’s goal of becoming an increasingly data and technology-led regulator, highlighting its recent investments in cloud-based technologies and ongoing development of data solutions to aid front-line workers.

Over the coming year, the regulator plans to augment this with upgrades to its core regulatory system and intelligence capabilities via automated analytics tools – enabling it to locate and address potential risks more easily – alongside improvements to cyber security and operational resilience platforms.

The FCA will also be continuing its Transforming Data Collections programme, which the announcement states has “already resulted in a reduction in firm burden this year through an improved intuitive form for 20,000 consumer credit firms”.

2023/24: the year of the Consumer Duty

Coming into effect for new and existing products from 31st July, the transformative Consumer Duty regulations are referenced frequently in this year’s business plan and are – unsurprisingly – set to form a central pillar of the FCA’s supervision framework going forward.

Indeed, among the release’s most noteworthy details is the regulator’s pledge to spend an additional £5.3m to ensure it has the means to enforce the Consumer Duty rules properly. The funding will be used to set up specific intervention teams within enforcement to enable swift investigations into potential misconduct, as well as facilitate sector-specific supervisory work.

As the plan explains: “Through targeted multi-firm work, for example on fair value and sludge practices, we will identify, assertively supervise and effectively enforce against activities which undermine effective competition and good consumer outcomes.”

A comparatively significant sum, firms should take this multi-million-pound investment as a clear show of intent from the regulator that the new legislation won’t simply be more of the same – and that it’s looking to use all tools at its disposal to ensure businesses are compliant over the long term.

TCC Guide to FCA Business Plan 23-24

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