The FSA has announced a new programme of measures to increase its contact with small firms and to ensure they are embedding Treating Customers Fairly principles in their business practices.
The aim is to encourage firms to make faster progress on TCF and to identify those firms most in need of guidance and “regulatory attention”.
The FSA will be assessing small firms on an ongoing basis through visits and/or telephone assessments to test the firms’ progress towards TCF.
Around a quarter of all firms will then have full on-site visits to follow-up the issues identified.
The FSA says 90 per cent of the firms regulated by the FSA are small firms which are defined as having under £3m annual turnover and under 20 registered individuals.
FSA chief executive Hector Sants says: “We want to help small firms better assist their customers, many of whom are seeking advice on some of the biggest financial commitments they will ever make. Firms’ management must ensure that the FSA’s TCF initiative runs through every aspect of their businesses.
“Small firms are making progress on TCF, but we would like to help them accelerate the process. We are therefore increasing the contact we have with small firms to improve the rate of this change and to enable them to better help their customers.”
The deadline for all firms to be able to demonstrate they are treating customers fairly is December 2008 but the FSA says its assessments will extend beyond this deadline.