The letter is accompanied by a report which includes examples of how firms should meet FSA expectations in relation to compliance with its requirements.
The FSA has warned it will be increasing its visits to firms this year to assess how well these are being met.
This follows a letter sent to firms in March 2009, which explained the obligations a firm has to protect clients’ money and assets and set out the FSA’s intention to conduct further firm visits during 2009.
Subsequently the FSA visited a range of firms and found a number of failings, including poor management oversight and control, lack of establishment of trust status for segregated accounts, unclear arrangements for the segregation and diversification of clients’ money and incomplete or inaccurate records, accounts and reconciliations.
The FSA says it has already taken measures against a number of the firms that it visited, including referring two firms to enforcement, freezing a firm’s assets and commissioning skilled persons reports.
FSA managing director of risk Sally Dewar says: “The client asset rules are a key protection for consumers. It is simply unacceptable that firms are not ensuring that consumers get the appropriate protection. We have pointed out our concerns to firms and will be following up these concerns with further visits this year.”