Regulators Join Forces To Protect People In The Financial Sector

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to help protect people in financial service markets.

The MoU sets out how the EHRC and FCA will share information with each other about businesses and other bodies they regulate. This includes working together to support vulnerable and excluded people where the FCA does not have the powers to address problems alone.

The FCA does not have the power to enforce the Equality Act, which is regulated by the EHRC. However, if for example the FCA suspected financial services firms weren’t making reasonable adjustments for disabled people, the information could be shared with EHRC, where appropriate action under the Equality Act would be considered.

Equally, if the EHRC is concerned that firms are in breach of the FCA’s rules, including their Principles, the information could be shared so that the FCA could consider taking action.

The two regulators have distinct roles, but their work can cover common ground and address similar issues. The new MoU allows for a more transparent working relationship and promotes co-operation between both organisations, better enabling them to target their resources and activities towards meeting their obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

All public bodies have a legal obligation to follow the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). The PSED is a key part of the Equality Act; a law regulated and enforced by the EHRC. If applied properly, it protects everyone in Great Britain from unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, while advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations.

The MoU will facilitate a more joined up approach towards protecting people in the financial sector.

Alastair Pringle, Executive Director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

“This agreement with the FCA is a demonstration of how effectively different regulators can work together. It’s a welcome opportunity to share knowledge and expertise, working together to protect people in the financial services markets.

“The PSED has the power to drive real change; as the regulator of the Equality Act we are committed to challenging discrimination by promoting equality of opportunity while tackling the biggest barriers faced by people already experiencing disadvantage in Britain today.”

Nisha Arora, Director Consumer and Retail Policy at the FCA said:

“Both the FCA and the EHRC play important roles in ensuring people are protected. It is vital that we work together to cover the common ground we share.

“The MoU sets out clearly how the two organisations will work together to help us act when we see equalities issues in the financial services sector.”

The FCA and EHRC will work together in the following areas:

  • Sharing our knowledge and expertise, and working together to address problems that we have identified as being of interest to both regulators
  • Co-operating on inquiries, research projects, advice and guidance and policy work
  • Joint events and external communications where appropriate
  • Signposting of advice and guidance on our respective websites that explains each other’s regulatory responsibilities
  • Referral to each other of concerns and complaints received
  • Signposting of such complaints if we are unable to deal with them;

The MoU covers in more detail when and how the regulators will work together, including in handling complaints and sharing information.