About the FCA

We are the conduct regulator for around 51,000 financial services firms and financial markets in the UK. Find out more about what we do and how we do it.

Our role

Financial markets need to be honest, fair and effective so consumers get a fair deal. Our role is to ensure markets work well for individuals, for businesses and for the economy as a whole. 

We do this by:  

  • regulating the conduct of around 51,000 businesses 
  • prudentially supervising 49,000 firms 
  • setting specific standards for around 18,000 firms 

We were established on 1 April 2013, taking over responsibility for conduct and relevant prudential regulation from the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

How we regulate

Firms and individuals must be authorised or registered by us to carry out certain activities.  

Before we grant authorisation, firms must demonstrate that they meet a range of requirements. We then supervise these firms to make sure they continue to meet our standards and rules after they’re authorised. If firms and individuals fail to meet these standards, we have a range of enforcement powers we can use.  

We work alongside the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the prudential regulator of around 1,500 banks, building societies, credit unions, insurers and major investment firms. 

Why we do it

Financial services play a critical role in the lives of everyone in the UK, from children’s ISAs to pensions, direct debits to credit cards, loans to investments.  

How well financial markets work has a fundamental impact on us all. 

UK financial services employ over 1.1 million people and contribute £75.6 billion in tax to the UK economy. Based on our policy and enforcement work, we estimate that we add at least £11 of benefits to consumers and small businesses for every pound we spend.  

If UK markets work well, competitively and fairly they benefit customers, staff and shareholders, and maintain confidence in the UK as a global financial hub.

How we operate

Our strategic objective is to make sure relevant markets function well. We’ve outlined how we will achieve this objective in our 3-year Strategy.  

Our operational objectives are to: 

We're an independent public body funded entirely by the fees we charge regulated firms. We are accountable to the Treasury, which is responsible for the UK’s financial system, and to Parliament.

Our work and purpose are defined by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA). We work with consumer groups, trade associations and professional bodies, domestic regulators, international partners and a wide range of other stakeholders.  

With this extensive remit, we use a proportionate approach to regulation, prioritising the areas and firms that pose a higher risk to our objectives. 

How we measure our performance

We evaluate the effect our work has so we can find ways to improve.  

Every year, we outline the actions we’ll take to achieve our objectives in our Business Plan and we describe the progress we’ve made in our Annual Report

We also publish a full list of our multi-year outcomes and metrics against which we hold ourselves accountable and that we use to measure our progress.  

We measure our performance using service standards. These are the levels of performance that we aim to meet when carrying out our regulatory functions – we publish these as part of our commitment to be a transparent organisation. 

We break down the service standards by the following categories: 

  • Authorisations 
  • Communications 
  • Complaints about us 
  • Listing 
  • Notifications 
  • Payment services regulations and electronic money regulations 
  • Regulatory decisions 
  • Customer satisfaction 

The Authorisations Division also publishes quarterly key performance indicators (KPIs): 

Page updates

07/04/2022: Editorial amendment Updates to align with Business Plan and Strategy.
22/11/2021: Editorial amendment General page updates.
15/07/2021: Information changed 60,000 to 51,000 firms and changes to employment and tax figures.
24/09/2020: Information changed Nearly 60,000
02/09/2020: Information changed Removed link to 2018-19 highlights video.