Why are we progressing so slowly when it comes to protection of whistleblowers? City watchdog spends
Updated: Jun 12, 2020
At a cost of £500,000, the team was less expensive than the £589,000 wage bill for the FCA’s boss, Andrew Bailey.
The agency devotes more resources to whistleblowing now than it did in 2013 when it employed just two full-time staff to deal with allegations. The figures released to Bloomberg highlight the limited resources for handling complaints of wrongdoing in the UK financial services industry. FCA has been pushing banks to improve their conduct in a country that’s home to the world’s biggest foreign exchange market and some of the largest financial institutions
The UK’s financial watchdog spent less last year on the team handling whistleblowers’ allegations than it did on its chief executive’s salary.
The Financial Conduct Authority employed seven staff to interview whistleblowers, assess their information and pass details to other parts of the agency in 2018, according to figures released under freedom of information rules.
This year, there are a dozen employees in the British regulator’s whistleblower unit and the FCA estimated that the cost of staffing the operation had risen to £800,000, or about 0.2 per cent of the regulator’s annual budget.
The FCA has been pushing banks to improve their conduct in a country that’s home to the world’s biggest foreign exchange market and some of the largest financial institutions. The London-based watchdog regularly receives more than 1,000 tip-offs per year.
“There are certainly not enough people on the team and that just isn’t acceptable,” said Georgina Halford-Hall, chief executive of WhistleblowersUK, which supports people bringing complaints against their employers.
Whistleblowing has risen up the FCA’s agenda in recent years after some high-profile missteps. Last year, the agency was criticised by the Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner after it revealed the identity of a Royal Bank of Scotland whistleblower.
Commentary: One of the main reasons for inadequate protection of whistleblowers is the lack of resource being devoted to protecting them. In some cases, such as the case of the FCA, this can be helped. Protection of whistleblowers requires steady and sustainable resource dedicated to regulating and reviewing practices involving whistleblowers, ensuring that only the best systems are being implemented.
Regulators should be the example of behaviour to be followed rather than an example of what behaviours to avoid
We need to put the adequate protection of whistleblowers at the top of the agenda, well above what goes into a CEO's pocket.