Acting FCA chief executive Tracey McDermott says the regulator can only rebuild trust if it is seen to “be above the political and media fray”.
In recent months the regulator has been criticised for a perceived lack of independence, particularly following its dropping of a banking inquiry.
Speaking at an enforcement conference last month, the text of which was published yesterday, McDermott set out how she sees the role of the FCA.
She said: “As regulators, enforcers or prosecutors, it is not our job to satisfy public opinion, to find scapegoats, to take sides or to seek retribution. It is not our job to jump to conclusions, to have knee jerk reactions, to be immediately on the defensive.
“It is our role to divorce ourselves from the emotion, the speculation and the hyperbole, however difficult that is.
“To ensure we find the facts without fear or favour – through processes that are objective, fair and rational – and then, and only then, to recommend the appropriate action. Including, sometimes, saying no one is at fault.”
She said the outcome of the Hillsborough investigation taught three lessons.
As a result the FCA must convey justice, so the public are confident wrongdoers had been caught; act transparently and quickly; and must be seen to be fair, she said.
She added: “Without trust and confidence, financial services cannot thrive. After all, even the most basic building block of the system – money – is only a piece of paper unless the promise to pay can be believed.
“So it is critical that society has confidence that the authorities will tackle the most challenging issues with an open mind and that where fault is found, it will have meaningful and visible consequences.”
McDermott is due to leave the regulator in July, when new chief executive Andrew Bailey takes over.