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SUP 1A.4 Tools of supervision


In order to meet the statutory objectives and address identified risks to those objectives, the FCA has a range of supervisory tools available to it, including the power to impose financial penalties.


These tools may be usefully grouped under four headings:

  1. (1)

    identify – identifying instances where the UK financial system or firms are harming consumers, have the potential to do so, or where the UK financial system is working poorly and not providing sufficient benefit to consumers2;

  2. (2)

    diagnose – diagnosing potential harm, including its cause, extent and potential development2;

  3. (3)

    remedy – assessing the range of the FCA’s available regulatory tools and making a judgement about whether these tools can remedy or mitigate the harm cost-effectively2; and

  4. (4)

    evaluate – for the FCA’s largest interventions, the FCA will test how effective these were and publish analysis after the event2.


Tools may serve more than one purpose. For example, supervisory powers can be used to address risks which have materialised or to assist in preventing risks from escalating. In the first instance they are remedial; in the second, preventative.


Some of these tools, for example the use of public statements to deliver messages to firms or consumers1, do not involve the FCA in direct oversight of the business of firms. In contrast, other tools do involve a direct relationship with firms. The FCA also has powers to act on its own initiative to impose or vary individual requirements on a firm (see SUP 7) and to ban or impose requirements in relation to specific financial promotions1. The FCA may also use its general rule-making powers to ban or impose requirements in relation to specific products, types of products or practices associated with a particular product or type of product. The use of the FCA's tools in its oversight of market practices, in ensuring the protection of client assets and for prudential supervision of FCA-only firms, will also contribute to the integrity and orderly operation of the financial markets.


The FCA uses a variety of tools to monitor whether a firm, once authorised, remains in compliance with regulatory requirements. These tools include (but are not limited to):

  1. (1)

    desk-based reviews;

  2. (2)

    liaison with other agencies or regulators;

  3. (3)

    meetings with management and other representatives of a firm;

  4. (4)

    on-site inspections;

  5. (5)

    reviews and analysis of periodic returns and notifications;

  6. (6)

    reviews of past business;

  7. (7)

    transaction monitoring;

  8. (8)

    use of auditors; and

  9. (9)

    use of skilled persons.


The FCA also uses a variety of tools to address specific risks identified in firms. These tools include:

  1. (1)

    making recommendations for preventative or remedial action;

  2. (2)

    giving other individual guidance to a firm;

  3. (3)

    imposing individual requirements; and

  4. (4)

    varying a firm's permission in another way.


For further discussion of the FCA's regulatory approach, see publications on the FCA's website.