Coronavirus may delay FCA plans for 'months'

Coronavirus may delay FCA plans for 'months'

The Financial Conduct Authority has said the uncertainty surrounding the effects of the coronavirus pandemic is such that it may be "months" before it manages to address its priorities.

And the regulator said it may have to redraw its own business plan as the effects of the pandemic become clearer.

The FCA published its business plan this morning which set out its priorities for the next one to three years.

But this was done amid the social and economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing enforced to contain its spread.

The FCA said where it could continue with its plans without distracting from its work on coronavirus, it would.

But the regulator added: "This shock is not like previous economic downturns, but nor will it follow the pattern of a natural catastrophe, where the damage can be sized relatively quickly. Here, there is enormous uncertainty about the size and nature of potential damage.

"But it may be months before we are in a more stable position and can focus fully on the activities in this plan. Even then, the shape and scale of the issues we need to address may have changed significantly as a result of the virus.

"We may publish an update to this plan if we believe it is necessary."

The FCA has already taken a host of measures to protect firms and consumers, including guidance for mortgage providers on the 3-month payment holiday and measures to support users of consumer credit products.

Listed companies were also told to postpone publishing their results to make sure the information was accurate.

The smallest fee payers will be given an extra two months to settle their annual fees with the FCA.

And there is a renewed push to combat scams.

The FCA added: "We will remain vigilant to potential misconduct. There may be some who see these times as an opportunity for poor behaviour – including market abuse, capitalising on investors’ concerns or reneging on commitments to consumers.

"Where we find poor practice, we will clamp down with all relevant force. We are working with a range of partners, including other regulators, law enforcement agencies and firms and consumer groups, to raise awareness of the increased risk of scams in the current uncertain context and help consumers protect themselves."