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What Is FCA? – What Does FCA Stand for? (Definition, Guidelines, & Meaning) – AdvisoryHQ complaint definition fca

What Is FCA? – What Does FCA Stand for? (Definition, Guidelines, & Meaning)

Overview: FCA

As you begin to explore investing your hard earned money and started to do some research, you may have asked the question, "What does FCA stand for?" 

FCA stands for Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA is a United Kingdom organisation that regulates the financial services industry.  The FCA guidelines set out three objectives for the organisation.

What Is FCA? – Objective to Protect Consumers

When asked what FCA is for, one answer is that it helps to protect consumers. The FCA works to make sure that consumers are being treated fairly. The FCA regulation monitors financial institutions to verify that they meet the FCA rules and standards given to the institutions.

What Is FCA? – Objective to Protect Financial Markets

The second answer as to what is the FCA is that it works to ensure that financial institutions have a strong infrastructure—as well as thorough risk management and individual accountability—that enables firms to resist financial ups and downs. The FCA meaning here is that the UK financial markets will remain strong and stable throughout the entire European Union and international financial system.

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What Is FCA? – Objective to Promote Effective Competition

Another answer is that the FCA protects the financial markets by encouraging fair competition so that consumers get the best possible deal when shopping for financial service products. Through FCA regulation, financial service markets, businesses, and exchanges are verified to determine that they are in compliance with the FCA rules.

See Also: What Is Consumer Credit? – Everything You Should Know (What Is Credit Counseling & a Credit Counselor?)

What Is FCA? – Cooperating Organisations

The United Kingdom has created a multifaceted approach to creating a stable and thriving economy. In addition to the FCA regulation, several other organisations are involved with this responsibility. These organisations have their own objectives that work in conjunction with the FCA rules and regulations.

Whereas the FCA stands for the regulation of the financial services industry, the Prudential Regulation Authority is responsible for the regulation of banks, building societies, credit unions, insurers, and major investment firms.

The Bank of England , working alongside the FCA regulations, is charged with regulating payment, clearing and settlement systems, acting as a lender, influencing markets in times of financial stress, and facilitating the safe resolve of failing financial institutions.

The Financial Policy Committee was formed to identify, monitor, and take action to remove the risks that may be a threat to the financial stability of the United Kingdom and its financial systems.

While not directly associated with the government, the FCA guidelines mandate that the FCA reports to the HM Treasury , a government organisation.  In addition, the Treasury oversees public spending, guiding the direction of UK’s economic policy and striving for a stable and growing economy.

Other agencies, government departments, and organisations that cooperate closely with the FCA to uphold what the FCA stands for include the Money Advice Service , the Department for Business Innovation and Skills , the Department of Work and Pensions , The Pensions Regulator , the Serious Fraud Office , the Financial Ombudsman Service , the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Serious Organised Crime Agency .

What Is FCA? – History

Prior to creating the FCA in 2012 , the Financial Services Authority was responsible for the regulation of the financial services industry. Formed in 1997, the FSA took over the responsibility for supervising banking from the Bank of London. It was also the listing authority for the London Stock Exchange and had the responsibility of regulating the investment services in the UK. Similar to FCA regulation, additional responsibilities given to the FSA after 1997 included regulation of the mortgage and insurance businesses and the ability to act when market abuse was evident.

After the economic and financial crisis, the United Kingdom determined there was a need to create a new set of rules and regulations that would provide stability, foster competition and prevent fraud in the financial services industry in order to reduce the risk of another financial crisis in the future. From this need, the Financial Services Act received royal assent on 19 December 2012, thus establishing what FCA stands for.

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What Is FCA? – Legal Regulatory Powers

The new FCA rules give the organisation tremendous power to not only observe and monitor but to investigate and enforce the FCA rules and regulations. The FCA takes a three step approach to the process.

Step 1 of the FCA regulation is Authorisation. Through careful investigation, the FCA evaluates a firm or individual to determine if the firm or individual presents a risk to the overall FCA objectives. If the firm or individual does not meet specific standards set forth by FCA guidelines , the FCA will not permit that firm or individual to join the organisation.

Step 2 of the FCA regulation is Supervision. Once a firm or individual has passed the FCA guidelines and been accepted by the FCA, the FCA continues to monitor and supervise the actions of the firm or individual on an ongoing basis. This ongoing supervision assures consumers that the firms under the FCA regulation maintain a high level of standard defined by the FCA.

Step 3 of the FCA regulation is Enforcement. Where the FCA finds a firm or individual that is not maintaining the FCA guidelines, the FCA has the power of enforcement through the use of fines and criminal prosecutions.

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What Is FCA? – Who the FCA Regulates

The FCA is charged with the regulation of a specific set of financial services as part of an overall program to reduce the risk and improve the strength and security of the UK economy.

Financial Advisors – Since the creation of the FCA, firms and individuals who advise on products for investments, pensions, retirement income, and financial planning are now required by FCA rules to charge a fee for such advice. Prior to the new regulations, financial advisors would collect commissions from the products they sold.

Mutual Societies – The FCA rules mandate that the FCA is responsible for registering new mutual societies as well as keeping public records and receiving annual returns from such societies.

Banks The FCA rules indicate that the FCA will be tasked with the supervision of banks to determine that the banks ensure customers are treated fairly, that innovation and competition are encouraged, and that the banks facilitate the identification of potential risks to the economy early and often to reduce lasting consequences.

The table below is provided by and provides an extensive list of the types of firms that the FCA regulations are anticipated to be responsible for.

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A firm or organisation applying for authorisation to be included in the FCA will be categorised into four classes.

FCA definition of category 1, or C1, includes banks and insurance agencies with a significantly large number of retail customers as well as those banks holding large client assets. FCA definition of C2 includes firms of all varieties that hold a significant number of retail customers. FCA definition of C3 includes firms of all varieties that hold retail customers but do not meet criteria for C2. FCA definition of C4 includes smaller firms and most intermediaries.

The category that a firm falls into will determine the level and style of supervision and FCA regulation. Firms falling into C1 or C2 pose the largest risk to consumers and market integrity.

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What is FCA? – Organisation

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To define FCA is to understand that it is an independent organisation, accountable to but not directly associated with the government. This independence allows for the FCA to better monitor and regulate without being encumbered by strict government regulation and oversight.

What FCA is, in part, is a foundation of transparency. In order to uphold this transparency, the FCA follows specific standards including a register of interests that provides a complete list of the directors and other positions held within firms that maintain membership and are FCA-regulated as well as those on the FCA board. In addition, the FCA rules allow for transparency through clear FCA meaning of how to deal with media, publishing internal audit reports and allowing and publishing external reviews.

As part of what defines FCA, accountability has been built into the structure of the organisation, allowing for complaints to be filed against the FCA when someone has been directly affected by what the FCA has or has not done. The FCA rules allow for a complaint to be defined as “ any expression of dissatisfaction about the manner in which the regulators have carried out, or failed to carry out, their relevant functions .”

An additional part of the FCA organisation is Procurement. Due to the FCA regulations, all money spent by the FCA is required to be evaluated to ensure that the highest value is obtained. FCA contracts currently available are listed within the Tenders Electronic Daily .

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What is FCA? – How the FCA Is Funded

Funding for the FCA comes from fees charged to the firms or individuals that the FCA regulation covers. There are a variety of fees included that support the FCA and what the FCA stands for.

Application Fee – this fee is charged when a firm or individual requests authorisation from the FCA. The amount of this fee is determined by the complexity of the application and currently ranges from £1,500 to £25,000.

Change to Permissions – This fee is charged per the FCA guidelines whenever a firm requests a change to existing authorised activity. There is no fee to reduce existing permissions. A change to a firm’s permissions that maintains the existing fee block incurs a fee of £250 and a fee that puts a firm into an additional fee block will be charged 50% of the relevant authorisation application fee.

Annual – The fee for maintaining current status with the FCA. The annual fees are determined based on the type of activities, the amount of business, and the cost for FCA regulation of those activities.

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What Is FCA? – Benefits to Consumers

A primary goal of what the FCA stands for is consumer protection. These consumer protections allow for a stronger and more risk tolerant economy throughout the United Kingdom.

Complaints The FCA rules outline how and when a consumer can file a complaint and receive compensation in the case of a dispute. FCA guidelines suggest a four-step process, including contacting the firm directly, making the complaint yourself, contacting the Financial Ombudsman Service, and finally, taking the matter to court.

Scams In addition, the consumer can obtain an FCA definition of scams and provides a list of unauthorised firms and individuals and gives recommendations for how to avoid the scams and what to do if a consumer is affected by a scam. In addition, the FCA guidelines proved a way to report suspected scams.

Research Financial Service Products The FCA stands for a well-regulated and thoroughly monitored standard of service in the financial services industry. A consumer has the ability to research the firms and the services provided by said firms that follow the FCA rules and regulations.

Consumer Protection – Because firms can only operate within the UK if they are authorised by the FCA or are exempt, this provides a level of security for the consumer, knowing that all firms following FCA regulations must uphold a high standard. This reduces the risk of unfair contracts and misleading advertisement.

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What Is FCA? – In Summary

Because it is still relatively new, there are often many questions about “just what is the FCA?” from consumers as well as firms looking to move into the financial services arena. What the FCA stands for is a set of rules and regulations that help to authorise, monitor, and enforce in order to provide for a strong economy that can minimize risk as much as possible. This is done through a structure of accountability, transparency, and supervision for companies that focus on investments of a financial nature. The FCA meaning holds to be one of cooperation with other organisations with a similar or complementary purpose.

Read More: CuraDebt Customer Reviews – Get all the Facts before Starting with CuraDebt

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saks fifth moncler mens How to avoid investment and pension scams First published: 10/08/2017 Last updated: 14/08/2017

Find out how to protect yourself from investment and pension scams, and how to check you’re dealing with an authorised firm.

Scams are increasingly sophisticated. Fraudsters can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing. 

But if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Reject unexpected offers 

If you’re contacted out of the blue about an investment opportunity, chances are it’s a high risk investment or a scam.

​​​​Scammers usually cold-call but contact can also come by email, post, word of mouth or at a seminar or exhibition.

If you get cold-called, the safest thing to do is to hang up. If you get unexpected offers by email or text, it’s best to simply ignore them.

You can register with the Telephone Preference Service and Mailing Preference Service to reduce the number of letters and cold calls you receive. 

Callers may pretend they aren’t cold calling you by referring to a brochure or an email they sent you – that’s why it’s important you know how to spot the other warning signs.

Spot the warning signs 

Fraudsters will often: 

apply pressure to invest quickly – they might offer you a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date or say the opportunity is only available for a short period  downplay the risks to your money – they might say you will own actual assets you can sell to make back any losses or use legal jargon to suggest the investment is very safe promise tempting returns that sound too good to be true, such as better interest rates than elsewhere say that they’re only making the offer available to you or even ask you to not tell anyone else about the opportunity

Check if a firm is FCA-authorised 

Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by us – if they’re not, it’s probably a scam.

Check our Financial Services Register to see if a firm or individual is authorised or registered with us.

Always access the Register from our website, rather than through links in emails or on the website of a firm offering you an investment. 

Check if the firm’s ‘firm reference number’ (FRN) and contact details are the same as on our Register.

If there are no contact details on the Register or if the firm claims they’re out of date, call our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.

If you’re dealing with an overseas firm, you should check with the regulator in that country and also check the scam warnings from foreign regulators.

If you use an unauthorised firm, you won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong – and you’re unlikely to get your money back.

Not all investment products are regulated by us (eg wine) – find out more about unregulated investment products . 

Check the FCA Warning List 

Use the FCA Warning List to check the risks of a potential investment – you can also search to see if the firm is known to be operating without our authorisation. 

Even if a firm isn’t on our list, it may still be a scam – firms change names and details all the time.

Check it’s not a ‘clone firm’

A common scam is to pretend to be a genuine firm (called a ‘clone firm’).

Always use the contact details on our Register, not the details the firm gives you. 

You should also check the firm’s details with directory enquiries or Companies House to make sure they’re the same.

Get impartial advice

Always get independent advice before investing – don’t use an adviser from the firm that contacted you.

You can find financial advisers at and VouchedFor . 

If you’re looking for a stockbroker or wealth manager, you can try The WMA .

Read more about how to find an adviser .  

If you’re suspicious, report it

You can report the firm or scam to us by contacting our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 or using our reporting form . 

If you’ve given your bank account details to a firm you think may be operating a scam, tell your bank immediately.

If you've agreed to transfer your pension and now suspect a scam, contact your pension provider straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn't taken place yet. 

Be wary of future scams

If you’ve already invested in a scam, fraudsters are likely to target you again or sell your details to other criminals. 

The follow-up scam may be completely separate or related to the previous fraud, such as an offer to get your money back or to buy back the investment after you pay a fee. 

If you have any concerns at all about a potential scam, contact us immediately.

Print page Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Share page How to avoid investment and pension scams Be a ScamSmart Investor ScamSmart Check the FCA Warning List Check the Financial Services Register Protect yourself from scams External links Action Fraud Money Advice Service on scams The Pensions Regulator Pension Wise The Pensions Advisory Service

False Claims Act developments for providers Share this content: facebook twitter linkedin google Email Print Above: Jason Edgecombe, Below: Ted Lotchin

In a pattern that has become all-too familiar across the healthcare industry, fraud investigation and enforcement activity involving long-term care providers continues to pick up steam:

“Nursing Home Operator to Pay $48 Million to Resolve Allegations That Six California Facilities Billed for Unnecessary Therapy” 1 Therapy Provider “Agrees to Pay $38 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations Relating to the Provision of Substandard Nursing Care and Medically Unnecessary Rehabilitation Therapy” 2 “Florida Skilled Nursing Facility Agrees to Pay $17 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations” 3

Although the allegations behind each settlement may differ, these cases all demonstrate the government's continued reliance on the Federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) 4 to pursue claims of fraud and abuse against federal health care programs (“FHCPs”). From its humble beginnings as a means to protect the Union Army from unscrupulous defense contractors during the Civil War, the FCA has grown into a multi-billion dollar growth industry for both government enforcement agencies and private “qui tam” plaintiffs. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in the LTC industry.

Over the course of this four-part series, we will examine recent trends in FCA enforcement that will affect the LTC industry and your business in the years ahead and also offer some best practices and practical tips that LTC providers can implement to survive in this difficult environment.

The Lincoln law

Congress enacted the FCA in 1863, as a means for the federal government to recover against individuals who profited from the sale of defective, obsolete, or useless goods and supplies to the Union Army. The FCA's scope and utility has expanded significantly since that time, and now allows the United States to recover significant monetary damages for a wide range of prohibited activities, including knowingly making a false or fraudulent claim for payment to the federal government and failing to return an overpayment within 60 days. 5

FCA cases are most often initiated by private plaintiffs — known as “relators” under the FCA and “whistleblowers” in common terminology — who, in return, receive a percentage of any recovery. 6 And those recoveries can be substantial: three times the government's loss, plus a penalty of $5,500 to $11,000 per claim. 7 Private qui tam complaints are filed under seal, which starts the clock for the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to review the complaint, assess the available evidence, and decide whether to “intervene” and take over the litigation. 8

Enforcement trends for LTC providers

Although the FCA remained relatively unchanged (and rarely used) for the first 100 years of its history, the statute has been amended three times since 1986. These changes have made it much easier for whistleblowers to turn allegations of routine billing errors or inadvertent violations of federal regulatory requirements into FCA complaints, and for those complaints to survive past the initial stages of litigation. This, in turn, has prompted a dramatic increase in the number of qui tam complaints being filed and in the dollars recovered.

In 1986, private whistleblowers filed a total of 30 qui tam complaints. In contrast, whistleblowers filed over 700 qui tam complaints in 2014. The DOJ recovered $5.7 billion in settlements and judgments in 2014, with nearly half of that amount ($2.5 billion) coming from the health care industry. This marked the fifth straight year of recoveries in excess of $2 billion from the health care industry and pushed the total amount of money recovered since the 1986 amendments to roughly $44 billion.

Over half of the money recovered (approximately $23 billion) has been recovered since the most recent round of changes to the FCA. 9

For LTC providers, government enforcement activity spiked following a report by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) that determined roughly 20% of all Medicare Part A skilled nursing facility (“SNF”) claims were upcoded to a higher RUG group in 2009, resulting in almost $1.2 billion in improper payments. 10 This report, and a follow-on Wall Street Journal article, resulted in a dramatic increase in investigation and enforcement activity focused on LTC and rehab providers.

These FCA complaints (and the relators who file them) have moved beyond the traditional “worthless services” arguments about poor quality care to focus on more sophisticated and nuanced fraud allegations involving systematic upcoding to higher RUG levels in response to corporate “pressure,” targeting therapy at or around RUG thresholds, increasing therapy during “look back” periods, and providing “skilled” therapy when a lower level of care may be sufficient for improvement.

As demonstrated by the DOJ press releases noted above, both relators and the government are getting much more comfortable pursuing complex FCA allegations and are winning much more significant recoveries under these complaints. For LTC providers, this means that more serious legal and compliance questions will continue to surface in an already difficult operating environment.

In our next blog, we'll discus “Lies, More Lies, and Statistics – The Use and Abuse of ‘Extrapolation' to Demonstrate False Claims Act Liability for Rehab Therapy Upcoding.”

Jason R. Edgecombe is of counsel in the Atlanta, GA, office of Baker Donelson. He can be reached at

Ted Lotchin is of counsel in Baker Donelson's Washington, D.C., office, and is a member of the Firm's Health Law Group. He can be reached at




4 12 Stat. 696 (1863), currently codified at 31 U.S.C. § 3729.

5 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a).

6 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b).

7 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a).

8  Although FCA complaints are civil in nature, the DOJ announced in November 2014 that its Criminal Division will be reviewing all qui tam complaints in order to determine whether it will open parallel criminal investigations.

9  These eye-popping recoveries demonstrate that the enforcement environment for health care providers is becoming increasingly aggressive.  However, there will be plenty of room for growth in the qui tam business if the FBI's recent estimate that the Medicare program loses $23 billion to fraud each year is accurate.

10 OIG, Inappropriate Payments to Skilled Nursing Facilities Cost Medicare More Than a Billion Dollars in 2009 (Nov. 2012), available at  The OIG also found that payments for Medicare beneficiaries in the “Rehab Ultra-High” RUG category almost doubled from 2006-2008.   Id.