The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) handed out 26 fines in 2022, according to law firm RPC.
This is more than double the number issued in 2021 (10).
The UK regulator has said that it is determined to protect consumers whose financial stress during the cost-of-living crisis might lead them to making unwise decisions in terms of investment or borrowing.
Fines relating to the mistreatment of retail customers in 2022 covered a number of areas, including offering poor advice regarding pension transfers, investing in inappropriately risky assets within a self-invested personal pension (Sipp) and poor treatment of customers in guarantor loans.
The number of FCA fines levied against individuals also rose sharply to 10 in 2022 from only three a year before.
‘Decisive and proactive’
Jonathan Cary, Partner at RPC, said: “With the sharp increase in the number of fines in 2022, which follows a significant jump in the number of investigations opened, the FCA is sending a clear message that it is ‘back in business’ following the pandemic and that misconduct will not be tolerated – especially where retail customers may suffer harm.
“Alongside its enforcement activities and levying of fines and other penalties, we have also seen the FCA taking a more proactive and assertive approach to supervision with what it has termed ‘interventions’. This includes wide-ranging powers to impose requirements or variation of permissions, often on an urgent basis.
“Looking ahead into 2023, we can expect to see enforcement action in relation to the implementation by firms of the FCA’s new Consumer Duty. This requires firms to clearly demonstrate that they are prioritising their customers and, where problems do arise, they are able to look at the root causes objectively.
“We will also see a change in leadership as the current FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight, Mark Steward, is standing down in the spring after seven years. It will be interesting to see whether his successor continues in the same direction or looks to plot a different course.
“A particular challenge for the new executive director of enforcement, and the FCA more broadly, is how to balance the need to keep a sufficiently tight rein on the financial services industry and the government’s recently announced reforms to drive economic growth in the industry.”