The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has tightened the screws on City firms over the past 12 months as it blocked nearly 30 per cent more companies from operating than in the previous year.
In its annual report released on Thursday, the City watchdog said it had prevented 627 firms from operating in the year to the end of March as it looks to draw up firmer guardrails for consumers.
Chief Nikhil Rathi has looked to shift the regulator onto a more aggressive footing against errant City firms and the regulator has fired off warnings shots throughout the year to firms across its remit.
In a statement with its annual update today, Rathi said the watchdog’s proactive approach was required as a cost of living crunch gripped the country.
“The FCA has evolved into a more proactive, assertive and data-led regulator better equipped to face challenges like the rising cost of living in a more agile and effective way,” Rathi said in a statement today.
“Tailored support is important for those struggling with debt and we continue to work with firms to make sure people receive the right help to manage their finances, especially with the rising cost of living.”
The FCA claimed its actions had delivered £17 for every £1 spent and won consumers some £47m in redress, while the regulator dished out some £216m in financial penalties.
In the past week Rathi has fired a series of fresh barbs at the UK’s top lenders for failing to pass on rate hikes to savers as well as announcing plans to stamp out dubious social media claims peddled by so-called finfluencers.
The figures come as the regulator prepares for a fresh clampdown next week with the rollout of consumer duty, which will ramp up the guardrails around consumers in financial services.
The new duty has proved controversial as it will hike the workload for firms just as the government looks to strip back red tape in the City in a post-Brexit refresh. City minister Andrew Griffith has reportedly taken aim at the measure behind closed doors.
Ministers have also been looking to reset the role of the regulator in the City as part of a move to boost London’s standing on the international stage. The government pushed both the FCA and the Prudential Regulation Authority last year to include competitiveness as a secondary objective.
As part of its new remit, the regulator pointed to a number of reforms it tabled to listing rules in an effort to stop the drought that has hit the IPO market this year.