Regulation 

FCA sees reduction in whistleblowing reports

FCA sees reduction in whistleblowing reports

Law firm Pinsent Masons has published research that shows the Financial Conduct Authority saw a 19 per cent reduction in the number of whistleblowing reports received over 2015.

According to the firm, the latest figures obtained from the FCA show that 1,104 whistleblowing cases were created last year, down from 1,367 in 2014, representing a drop of nearly a fifth.

Alongside this, the latest figures also show the number of whistleblowing intelligence logs created increased marginally, suggesting the cases that were raised with the regulator were more likely to warrant further investigation.

Michael Ruck, a senior financial services enforcement lawyer at Pinsent Masons, and formerly with the FCA, said these statistics may come as a disappointment to those who have in recent years taken steps to encourage whistleblowing.

He said: “There has long been debate around the introduction of financial incentives for whistleblowers, and the numbers may reignite and give renewed impetus to that discussion.

“It is disappointing in the sense that the FCA has worked hard to review and improve its whistleblowing procedures and increasing the resources dedicated to the area.”

Number of whistleblowing cases created by the FSA/FCA

2013

2014

2015

948

1367

1104

Number of intelligence reports created

2013

2014

2015

868

1003

1049 (plus 63 cases awaiting further info)

Source: Pinsent Masons

Mr Ruck has highlighted the general decrease in tip-offs contrasts with other markets and is unlikely to be a result of a decline in allegations of misconduct.

Figures published by the Securities and Exchange Commission show the number of whistleblowing cases raised in the US, where whistleblowing is incentivised, have continued to increase year-on-year.

The SEC reported an 8 per cent increase in whistleblowing in the last fiscal year and saw a 28 per cent increase since 2013.

Additionally, the SEC whistleblowing figures also show the majority of whistleblowing reports it has received from overseas come from the UK.

The results come as new rules come into effect on today (7 March), which aim to increase accountability and encourage a culture in which individuals fee comfortable raising concerns and challenging poor practice and behaviour.

Under the Senior Managers Regime, the banking sector must put in place mechanisms to allow their employees to blow the whistle and raise concerns internally and appoint a senior person to take responsibility for the effectiveness of these arrangements.

Robert Lewis, director at Heritage Financial Solutions, questioned whether the reduction in whistleblowing numbers shows the industry is continuing to make improvements, or whether people are no longer interested in coming forward with information for the regulator.

He said: “Whistleblowing is an important process in any business and it should be made easy to raise concerns.”

ruth.gillbe@ft.com