Whistleblowing - Be Prepared

Uncertain market and economic conditions may lead to an increase in whistleblowing if firms, or individuals within firms, are cutting corners, applying pressure to staff, treating colleagues unfairly, etc.

While the vast majority of firms would not knowingly do anything that would prompt someone to ‘blow the whistle’, unprecedented times and the increase in personal stresses may give rise to an increase in incidents.

It is therefore worthwhile for firms to review their current approach to whistleblowing and, where applicable, whistleblowers – both of which are amongst the FCA’s key indicators of culture and governance. Key considerations include:

  • A whistleblowing policy is a mechanism to allows an employee to raise concerns. Does the firm have a suitable whistleblowing policy in place and do all staff understand the arrangements and whistleblowing services?
  • A senior person should be appointed to take responsibility for the effectiveness of whistleblowing arrangements. Has a senior manager been given the role of ‘whistleblowing champion’?
  • The FCA takes whistleblowing very seriously and follows up on all whistleblowing information received with the action on individual cases being signed of at a senior level. Are the firm’s whistleblowing policies and procedures of a suitable standard, which demonstrates its commitment to culture and governance?
  • Whistleblowing has an important part to play in highlighting poor practice and concerns should be identified and addressed. Has the firm defined its process for addressing a report in the event of an incident?
  • A whistleblowing policy should give individuals the confidence to ‘blow the whistle’ if necessary. Are individuals comfortable about raising concerns?

The FCA, in its press release from October 2015 (https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-introduces-new-rules-whistleblowing), lists key rules on whistleblowing, which “require a firm to:

  • appoint a Senior Manager as their whistleblowers’ champion
  • put in place internal whistleblowing arrangements able to handle all types of disclosure from all types of person
  • put text in settlement agreements explaining that workers have a legal right to blow the whistle
  • tell UK-based employees about the FCA and PRA whistleblowing services
  • present a report on whistleblowing to the board at least annually
  • inform the FCA if it loses an employment tribunal with a whistleblower
  • require its appointed representatives and tied agents to tell their UK-based employees about the FCA whistleblowing service.”

If you have any concerns regarding your firm’s whistleblowing arrangements or would like to have your existing policy and procedure reviewed by an external party, please contact the team at RWA via your RWA business manager or contact us via the helpdesk on 01604 709509 or helpdesk@rwagroup.co.uk.

About the author

Ash is Managing Director at RWA. He has over 15 years’ experience in the legal and compliance field and ten years in broker sales and leadership roles in national and global insurance firms.

He is highly skilled in the application of risk-based regulation, working closely with businesses at executive and board level to develop commercially viable, compliant systems and controls. Ash is adept in providing solutions-based interpretations of the FCA’s technical standards and facilitating the transfer of compliance skills and education needed for businesses to self-manage their own compliance and training needs.

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