The Financial Conduct Authority handed out £183.6m worth of fines this year, more than half the total bill in 2019.
The number of fines has fallen too, from 21 to just ten.
Lawyers believe the slowdown is due to the pandemic disrupting enforcement activities, not least the FCA’s ability to conduct witness and suspect interviews.
The biggest fine was handed down to Lloyds Bank in June for unfair treatment of mortgage customers whilst Barclays was handed a £26m bill in December for chasing customers in arrears too aggressively.
The FCA has been determined to refocus energy on consumer-facing markets in recent years.
Jonathan Cary, a partner at law firm RPC, said that the City should “expect to see increased enforcement activity in 2021, both in new investigations being opened and outcomes from current action.
“Protecting retail customers is a clear priority for the FCA. The pandemic has had a profound economic impact on individuals and businesses and the FCA will be looking hard in the coming months to ensure that no consumers have been disadvantaged,” he continued.
The regulator was stung earlier this month by a damning report into their handling of the London Capital & Finance minibond scandal.
Former boss Andrew Bailey, now the Governor of the Bank of England, was forced to apologise.