Stacked white books on rules and regulations

In an effort to enhance investor protection, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is considering the introduction of new principles to create a stronger duty of care for firms, while also bolstering private enforcement.

The FCA published a paper on Tuesday setting out its response to a consultation that it launched last year on possible approaches to fixing deficiencies in consumer protection.

That consultation launched a debate over whether the FCA’s regulatory framework provides adequate consumer protection, and properly balances the responsibilities of firms and consumers.

“The majority of respondents, from across the range of the FCA’s stakeholders, consider that levels of harm to consumers are high and there is a need for change to protect them better,” the regulator said Tuesday.

“We know that consumer harm can be caused by different things, so there is unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all solution to any weaknesses in consumer protection,” it added.

As a result, the FCA said it will review how it applies its regulatory principles, how well it communicates its process to firms, and whether to adopt new principles to “strengthen and clarify firms’ duties to consumers,” including potentially providing consumers with a private right of action for breaching the FCA’s principles.

“We will do further internal work to examine the options that are likely to be the most effective and proportionate, so we can understand their likely impact on all areas of our operation, industry and consumers,” the FCA said.

The regulator said it intends to publish a paper in the fall that will set out detailed reform proposals.

“We need a financial system that earns sustainable and acceptable returns and does so transparently. And, we need to encourage fair and sustainable risk taking. In these circumstances, there should be a debate about the future of regulation,” Andrew Bailey, CEO of the FCA, said in a speech on Tuesday in London.

“We all want strong, open markets. We want our financial services to succeed. And we want sustainable growth as well as the innovation and progress that benefits the consumers we’re here to serve. This is the future of financial conduct regulation that we are striving for,” he concluded.