The FCA plans to streamline its approach to enforcement and publicise investigations at an early stage.

By Andrea Monks, Rob Moulton, Nell Perks, Anna James, and Charlotte Collins

On 27 February 2024, the FCA published a Consultation Paper (CP24/2) on its proposed new approach to publicising enforcement investigations and changes to the FCA Enforcement Guide (EG). The FCA also published a related speech given by Therese Chambers, joint Executive Director of Enforcement and Market

Implementation of Basel Committee cryptoassets standard to provide additional clarity for banks looking to engage in cryptoassets business.

By Simon Hawkins and Adrian Fong

On 7 February 2024, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) released a consultation paper on its proposal for implementing new regulations on the prudential treatment of cryptoasset exposures (Consultation Paper).

The Consultation Paper comes shortly after the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and the HKMA issued a consultation paper in December 2023 outlining their legislative proposal for a regulatory regime governing stablecoin issuers in Hong Kong (see this Latham blog post). On 20 February 2024, the HKMA also published guidance on digital asset custody services and sale and distribution of tokenised products conducted by banks. Together, these papers offer guidance and greater certainty to banks interested in providing digital asset services (including digital asset issuance, custody, and dealing services).

This annual publication explores some of the core focus areas for UK-regulated financial services firms in the year ahead. 2023 saw significant progress on the regulatory reform agenda, and many measures consulted on or reviewed as part of the Edinburgh Reforms will be finalised and/or implemented in the course of 2024.

We also saw the passing of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023, many provisions of which have already come into effect and have made important changes to the

Critical Third Parties serving the UK financial sector must ready themselves for compliance with the newly proposed operational resilience requirements.

By Rob Moulton, Fiona Maclean, and Charlotte Collins

On 7 December 2023, the PRA, FCA, and BoE jointly published a Consultation Paper (PRA CP26/23 and FCA CP23/30) which proposes a set of regulatory requirements and expectations for critical third parties (CTPs) that provide services to authorised persons, relevant service providers, and financial market infrastructure entities (FMIs). The key aim of the proposals is to manage potential risks to the stability of, or confidence in, the UK financial system that may arise due to a failure in, or disruption to, the services that a CTP provides to such entities.

As the pace of reform increases, we take a look at key developments and the timeline ahead.

Significant progress has been made on the Edinburgh Reforms since they were announced in December 2022, with developments gathering pace before the summer break. Given the breadth and speed of the reforms, now is a good time to take stock of where things stand and what we can expect in the months ahead. In this publication, we highlight some of the key developments and set out expected dates for future progress.

The Future Regulatory Framework and Consumer Duty will be key areas of focus for the coming year.

By Rob Moulton, Nicola Higgs, David Berman, Becky Critchley, and Charlotte Collins

On 5 April 2023, the FCA published its Business Plan for 2023/24. The Business Plan sets out a number of priority areas for the regulator, tied into its three main areas of focus: reducing and preventing serious harm, setting and testing higher standards, and promoting competition and positive change.

The FCA highlights four of these priority areas that will receive additional emphasis over the coming year. These priority areas indicate a strong focus on developing the Future Regulatory Framework, including consulting on Handbook Rules to replace elements of onshored EU legislation as well as progressing the Edinburgh Reforms; and on consumer protection, including effectively implementing the new Consumer Duty.

The timetable sets out three tranches of extensive regulatory changes to UK and EU law in 2023 and 2024.

By Rob Moulton, Becky Critchley, Denisa Odendaal, and Dianne Bell

The “Edinburgh Reforms”, a series of announcements made on 9 December 2022 by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (see here), set out the UK government’s reforms to drive growth and competitiveness in the financial services sector. The Reforms build upon the reform agenda that the government is taking forward through the Financial Services and Markets (FSM) Bill and which implements the Future Regulatory Framework Review.

Monitoring the progress of the Financial Services and Markets Bill and regulatory divergence between the UK and the EU will continue as a key theme in 2023. 

The Financial Services and Markets Bill leaves a significant amount of the essential regulatory detail to be developed later by HM Treasury (through regulations), followed by development of the specific rules by the regulators. Therefore, firms operating in the financial services sector will face legal and regulatory uncertainty as to the UK’s regime

As the FCA’s remit continues to grow, the regulator pledges flexibility in the face of global financial and geopolitical headwinds.

By Rob Moulton, Anne Mainwaring, Jaime O’Connell, and Dianne Bell

On 7 April 2022, the FCA released its new Business Plan as part of a package including  a three-year strategy document setting out the outcomes it expects all firms to deliver across UK markets. In his introductory message, FCA Chief Executive Nikhil Rathi noted that the regulator’s broad and growing remit means “prioritisation is inevitable”. The FCA’s more outcomes-based approach means its commitments for the next three years fall into three stated areas of focus:

  1. Reducing and preventing serious harm: for example, protecting consumers from harm caused by authorised firms, including tackling fraud and poor treatment. The FCA expects to “harness data to assess problems more quickly”, with the aim of preventing harm from happening in the first place.
  2. Setting and testing higher standards: for example, focusing on the impact authorised firms’ actions have on consumers and markets. The FCA expects the new Consumer Duty to give firms greater certainty about how they should treat consumers as well as flexibility on how they deliver good outcomes.
  3. Promoting competition and positive change: greater regulatory open-mindedness, for example, by building on the globally copied “sandbox” and introducing a “scalebox”.