Consultant Zone

Remote working and regulator expectations

Many firms have been remote working for 20 months now. It is a testament to operational resilience plans that so many businesses were able to switch from office-based models to working from home in such a short time. As the world returns to pre-pandemic norms, many firms are grappling with the challenges of hybrid working.

Employees are beginning to consider what a return to the workplace might look like and having become accustomed to flexible working practices and associated lifestyle benefits that remote or hybrid working provides, are understandably looking to retain some of those benefits.

Now, with the ‘crisis’ nearly over, at least through a working practice lens, the FCA is turning its attention to what it expects from firms who maintain remote or hybrid working strategies.

The regulator will not tolerate any arrangements that:

1) Affects the ability of the firm to oversee its functions (including any outsourcing),
2) Causes detriment to consumers,
3) Damages the integrity of the market,
4) Increases the risk of financial crime, or
5) Reduces competition.

And it also threw this warning shot across the bows – “Any material changes to how your firm intends to operate may require you to notify us first. Under Principle 11 of the Principles for Businesses, firms are required to deal with the FCA in an open and cooperative way and to disclose to us anything relating to the firm which we would reasonably expect notice of.” 

So, while remote and hybrid working may initially have been seen as a quick fix to comply with government COVID regulations, the FCA now expects robust plans, oversight, and due diligence.

The firms that use us regularly will know that we have been providing independent review and analysis and providing clarity on loan portfolios since 2008. We are also busy helping firms with regulatory compliance, third party supplier oversight, consultancy and staffing services. Our colleagues in our regulatory compliance team are ahead of the curve in hybrid working oversight and if you would like to find out more about what we can do for you, or if you would like to chat about managing and mitigating risk, give us a call.