There has been a 33 per cent increase in the number of senior managers in financial services firms who faced vetting interviews by the regulator in the last year.
Figures obtained by law firm Cleveland and Co found these ‘significant influence function’ (SIF) interviews hit a five-year high of 183 in 2017 - up from 138 in 2016, and 145 in 2013.
The FCA can interview people applying for senior positions at financial services businesses, such as chief executive and chief finance officer, in order to assess whether they have the necessary skills, experience, and integrity in order to perform their role.
Cleveland and Co argued the increase in the number of SIF interviews being carried out by the FCA pointed to a clampdown on individuals applying for senior positions at regulated firms.
Emma Cleveland, managing director of the London-based law firm, said: “The jump in the number of interviews taking place shows that the FCA is setting the bar higher for senior managers if they want to lead financial services firms.
“It is a ratcheting up of the FCA’s management of risk in the sector.”
She added an increasing number of interviews could cause a delay for new financial services firms aiming to be authorised, which could negatively affect the competitiveness of the UK’s financial services industry.
Ms Cleveland said: “We hope that the higher numbers of interviews being carried out does not add too much delay to the already lengthy process for new businesses to achieve authorisation by the FCA.”
Julie Lord, chief executive and chartered financial planner at Bridgend-Based Magenta Financial Planning, said for her the crackdown is a "very good move".
"There are plenty of people holding senior positions in large financial companies who have been in the “industry” for a long time and are still focused on the sale of financial products and a target-based culture.
"The sooner the FCA weeds out these dinosaurs, the sooner we can be proud of a financial services profession that the public can trust.”