What Is the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)?

What Is the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) oversees the operations of the financial markets in the United Kingdom. The FCA strives to maintain integrity and fairness in the marketplace by safeguarding the interests of consumers, preserving the stability of financial markets, and fostering healthy competition. The FCA, which operates under the authority of the UK's Treasury and Parliament, is a public body. It levies fees on the firms it regulates.


Safeguarding the integrity and fairness of the United Kingdom's financial landscape falls under the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) jurisdiction. This regulatory body oversees the operation of the country's financial markets, aiming to establish a level playing field for individuals, enterprises, and the broader economy. The FCA, an autonomous financial watchdog, operates within the Treasury's oversight, accountable to both the UK's financial system and the legislative authority of Parliament. Its core functions encompass shielding consumers, ensuring market stability, and fostering a competitive environment.

Assuming the position in February 2023, Ashley Alder now leads the FCA Board. Prior to this role, Alder held the position of Chief Executive Officer at the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) in Hong Kong. Furthermore, he presided as the Chairman of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).

Role of the Financial Conduct Authority

Operationalizing its strategic vision, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) pursues three core aims: safeguarding consumers, upholding the integrity of the UK financial system, and fostering robust competition among financial service providers, all for the benefit of consumers.

Established on April 1, 2013, the FCA took over the oversight of conduct and pertinent prudential regulation from the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The FCA's legislative objectives were established under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and subsequently modified by the Financial Services Act 2012. This legislation, enacted in response to the aftermath of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, ushered in significant reforms in the UK's financial services regulatory landscape, aiming to enhance risk management and containment within the sector. 

FCA Authority and Operations

Empowering the FCA

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wields extensive authority to enforce its mission, encompassing rule creation and investigative and punitive capabilities. The FCA exercises the power to levy fees to sustain its autonomy and operations without government funding. These charges are directed at authorized entities engaging in FCA-regulated activities and affiliated bodies like recognized investment exchanges.

Fulfilling FCA Functions

Per the FCA's official portal, the authority oversees the behavior of approximately 50,000 enterprises, supervising 48,000 firms and stipulating precise benchmarks for nearly 18,000 establishments. Its overarching objective is cultivating equitable and transparent markets catering to individuals, businesses across scales and the macroeconomic realm. Achieving this entails safeguarding consumers, fortifying financial markets, and nurturing competitive dynamics. The FCA operates under the governance of the UK Treasury and Parliament.

Funding the FCA

The FCA, an autonomous public entity, sustains its operations through fees levied on regulated firms. These recurring charges from firms serve as the primary financial resource to fulfill the FCA's legal obligations. Determinants for these fees include the nature of regulated activities undertaken by each firm, the extent of those operations, and the associated regulatory expenses absorbed by the FCA.

Is FCA Authorization Required for My UK Business?

FCA authorization is imperative for those engaging in regulated financial services and extending credit to UK consumers. The stipulation originates from the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, mandating that individuals and firms conducting designated activities involving specific instruments must hold FCA authorization. Failure to secure this authorization could result in criminal liability under the FSMA.


Tasked with overseeing the financial services sector within the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) orchestrates the protection of consumers, market stability, and the facilitation of competitive dynamics among financial service providers. The legal basis for its mandate stems from the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, placing it under the jurisdiction of the UK's Treasury and Parliament.

Operating as an autonomous public institution, the FCA sustains its operations solely through fees collected from regulated entities. Leveraging criminal, civil, and regulatory mechanisms, the FCA acts assertively against unauthorized firms and individuals, securing consumer interests through its enforcement powers.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
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