FCA defends scam action work following pension committee appearance

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has written a letter to Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field defending the amount of staff it has working to tackle scams.

Following an appearance by FCA director of life insurance and financial advice supervision, Deborah Jones, before the committee on February 6 2019, in which she said there are 10 staff members looking at scams, the FCA’s chief executive Andrew Bailey has expanded on the regulator’s scam action.

Bailey stressed that tackling scams is a “key priority” for the FCA, noting that its 2018 Sector Views highlights that “harm suffered by consumers as a result of pension scams is one of the most significant issues affecting the sector”.

With regards to the number of staff working on scams, Bailey explained that Jones was referring to the specialist supervisory team sitting within her area that looks at authorised adviser firms that may be involved in pension scam activity.

He confirmed that the FCA flexes the number depending on need, for example, in response to a particular set of intelligence or multiple cases arriving at the same time. He noted that the specialist supervision team does not work in isolation and works with many other areas around the FCA.

For example, the team gets cases referred to it from the pension scam intelligence team, the Firm and customer contact centre, the whistleblowing team and other areas around the regulator.

He noted that the pension scam intelligence team has six people working in it, and acts as a single point of contact for the receipt of all intelligence regarding pension scams across the FCA.

"It would be easy for us to quote a much higher number of staff whose work includes pension scams and for whom we have the flexibility to allocate priorities such as scams according to threat levels at the time, However, I would not wish to mislead the committee in any way that therefore all of these staff spend all of their time on pension scams.

"Our approach to resourcing is deliberately flexible, but if we add up the time spent by our staff it is substantially larger than 10 full-time equivalents," he said.

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