Achieving the regulatory objectives involves the FSA informing itself of developments in firms and in markets. The Act requires the FSA to monitor a firm's compliance with requirements imposed by or under the Act (paragraph 6 (1) of Schedule 1). The Act also requires the FSA to take certain steps to cooperate with other regulators (section 354). For these purposes, the FSA needs to have access to a broad range of information about a firm's business.
The FSA receives the information in SUP 2.1.3 G through a variety of means, including notifications by firms (see SUP 15) and regular reporting by firms (see SUP 16). This chapter is concerned with the methods of information gathering that the FSA may use on its own initiative in the discharge of its functions under the Act. This chapter does not deal with the information gathering powers that the FSA has under the Unfair Terms Regulations. These are dealt with in UNFCOG2.12
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The FSA prefers to discharge its functions by working in an open and cooperative relationship with firms. The FSA will look to obtain information in the context of that relationship unless it appears that obtaining information in that way will not achieve the necessary results, in which case it will use its statutory powers. The FSA has exercised its rule-making powers to make Principle 11 which requires that a firm must deal with its regulators in an open and cooperative way, and must disclose to the FSA appropriately anything relating to the firm of which the FSA would reasonably expect notice.
The purpose of SUP 2.3 is to amplify Principle 11 in the context of information gathering by the FSA on its own initiative in the discharge of its functions under the Act. SUP 2.3 therefore sets out, in guidance on Principle 11 and in rules, how the FSA expects firms to deal with the FSA in that context, including the steps that a firm should take with a view to ensuring that certain connected persons should also cooperate with the FSA.
The purpose of SUP 2.4 is to explain a particular method of information gathering used by the FSA, known as "mystery shopping". Information about how a firm sells financial products can be very difficult to obtain, and the purpose of this method is to obtain such information from individuals who approach a firm in the role of potential retail consumers on the FSA's initiative. The FSA may seek information about particular issues or the activities of individual firms by means of mystery shopping.