A firm or an individual may ask us for individual guidance on how the rules and general guidance in the Handbook, the Act or other regulatory requirements apply in their particular circumstances (SUP 9). Requests for individual guidance may be made orally or in writing addressed to your firm's usual supervisory contact at the FSA. For IFA firms this will usually be the IFD Contact Centre. We will expect the firm or individual to have taken reasonable steps to research and analyse a topic before approaching us for individual guidance.
We may also give individual guidance to a firm on our own initiative (SUP 9.3). We may use this as a regulatory tool in response to our risk assessment of the firm.
Employees can contact us if they are concerned about something that is relevant to our functions. They are protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act where they:
have raised the matter internally within the firm and remain concerned by the response or lack of response or they have felt unable to talk to anyone internally;
reasonably believe the information and any allegations in it are substantially true; and
reasonably believe the FSA is responsible for the issue in question.
SYSC 4.2.2 R(2)(b) describes what may be appropriate internal procedures for smaller firms so that employees can raise concerns. Our direct whistleblowing number is 020 7066 9200. Our direct email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information is available at www.fsa.gov.uk/whistle/. Letters may also be sent to Authorisation Enquiries Department (ref. PIDA) at the FSA.
Small personal investment firms are exempt from the requirement to appoint an auditor (SUP 3.1), but see section 17.1.7 below.
Small personal investment firms that are limited companies or limited liability partnerships are nonetheless required by the Companies Act 1985 to appoint an auditor as audited accounts are required by Companies House. There is an exemption from audit for small companies under Company Law but this exemption does not apply to firms authorised by us. Sole traders and partnerships do not need to produce audited accounts.
A firm should consider whether it should notify the FSA under Principle 11 if: