一、什么是FCA？What is the FCA?
图片来源: Financial Conduct Authority
Before April 1, 2013, the financial services in the UK was supervised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). With the outbreak of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the British government decided to adjust the financial regulatory system. To this end, the FSA was abolishedand its structure was reformed and replaced by two new organisations which are Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (“PRA”).
The PRA is responsible for the prudential supervision and regulation of major investment firms, banks, credit unions andinsurers. The FCA is responsible for the supervision of conduct of financial services companies and financial markets in the UK and prudential regulator of firms not authorised by the PRA. Any organization registered in the UK and providingbanking or other financial services in or from the UK, is under the regulationof these two institutions.
Under the new regulatory system, the retail foreign exchange financial products such as CFDs, spread betting and trading platforms are all under the regulation of the FCA.
二、FCA的目标 FCA’s objectives
图片来源: Financial Conduct Authority
Client protection: FCA’s primary responsibility is to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers such as ensuring that clients are treated fairly and do not become victims of fraud or eventually are tied to unfair contracts.
Protect financial markets: The FCA aims to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system.
Promote competition: The FCA promotes effective competition in the interests of consumers.
Regulating company: FCA has a very important role in the regulation of the activities and behavior of financial services firms. FCA conducts regular assessments of the behavior, activities, controls, business models offinancial services firms to maintain trust in the integrity of markets and to ensure they do not create or allow market abuse, systemic risk or financial crime.
Fines and disciplinary action: FCA has the right to impose fines and various penalties on investment service companies that violate UK laws and regulations to protect consumers and to take action against firms and individuals that do not meet the FCA’s standards. In addition, FCA has the right to withdraw the company’s business license when the regulated company violates regulations or FCA does not consider the company is able to make a change thereafter.
Customer warnings: FCA regularly publishes warnings about unauthorised investment companies. This is also part of the FCA’s consumer protection objective, which in the case of Forex (foreign exchange) trading platform providers, is to prevent the investors from trading through un authorised firms and their trading platforms.
三、为什么FCA是最严格的外汇监管机构之一 One of the most stringent foreign exchange regulator
图片来源: Financial Conduct Authority
The FCA is considered in the opinion of many forextraders as one of the most stringent foreign exchange regulators in foreign exchange industry, in spite of this where possible, customers would rather only trade using FCA-authorised and regulated investment firms.
Why is the FCA so popular with retail traders?
Firstly, the FCA is directly accountable to the Treasury and Parliament . Besides from the requirements of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), which is a European Union legislation impacting all countries in the European Union, the FCA has additional regulatory requirements of its own, over and above the requirements of MiFID to address investor protection or market integrity issues in circumstances where these are not addressed in MiFID..
此外，使用由英诺FCA授权和监管的外汇交易商的最大优势在于，FCA将为消费者提供资金保护。 例如，如果英国FCA授权的外汇交易公司破产或无法履行财务义务（被称为“违约”），则任何客户对该公司的赔偿要求均由金融服务补偿计划（“FSCS”）处理，每人每公司每索赔的首个最高5万英镑索赔会100％补偿。 此外，当消费者对英国FCA授权和监管的公司进行投诉时，如果客户对他们的回复不满意，客户有权向英国金融调查专员服务处（“FOS”）投诉。
In addition, the biggest advantage of using an investment firm which is authorised and regulated by the FCA, is that it will provide financial protection to the consumers. One way this is demonstrated is that if an FCA authorised investment firm becomes insolvent or unable to meet its financialobligations, referred to as being “in-default”, any customer claims for compensation made against the firm are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (“FSCS”) and consumers are compensated 100% of the first £50,000 perperson, per claim and per investment firm. Furthermore, when a consumer has makes complaint about firms which are authorised and regulated by the FCA in the UK,customers have the right to take their complaint to the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service (“FOS”) if they are not satisfied with the response they received from the FCA authorised and regulated firm.
The cost for firms operating investment services in the UK is considerably high, nevertheless many investment services firms also found that when they are introducing their investment services to potential clients, becoming authorised and regulated by the FCA is a considerable advantage to customers. We have found that many investment services firms such as Forex brokers authorised and regulated by countries in the rest of the EU would welcome the opportunity to become set up a branch in the UK and become authorised and regulated by the FCA in the UK, and we believe this seems to have developed into a trend.
There are three ways in which investment firms such as Forex brokers can provide their online trading platform and forex brokerage services to customers:
1 、 欧洲经济区授权公司通过“欧洲经济区通行证”运作：欧洲经济区（包括欧盟国家以及冰岛，列支敦士登和挪威）（EEA）的所有国家都是欧盟单一市场的一部分，因此受到MiFID法案的约束。 MiFID的其中一项规定是允许在任一欧洲经济区国家授权的投资公司有权在另一个欧洲经济区国家提供某些投资服务或进行某些投资活动，而不需要其他欧洲经济区国家监管机构的额外授权，这项权利是被称为“通行证”。该权利仅适用于欧洲经济区。
EEA Authorised firms operating through an “EEA Passport”: All countries in the European Economic Area (“EEA”), which includes EU countriesand also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, are all part of the EU’s single market and therefore bound by MiFID legislation. One of the provisions of MiFID is to allow investment firms authorised in one EEA Country the right to provide certain investment services or perform certain investment activities in an other EEA country, without requiring additional authorisation from the regulatory authority in the other EEA country, this right is known as “passporting”. Passporting rights are only applicable within the EEA region.
Depending on the investment service being provided, an EEA passport would allow a financial services firm to carry out certain cross border services (“services passport”), such as sales and marketing activities of their product into any other EEA countries, without requiring the setup of a branch or a tied-agent in that EEA country. Nevertheless if an authorised firm intends to passport out of or into the United Kingdom under the MiFID legislation, the firm or the EEA home state regulator, respectively, should inform the appropriate UK regulator of the firm’s intention to do so.
By way of example,a brokerage firm in Cyprus which is authorised and regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission can provide certain investment services to UK customers by notifying the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK of its intention to do so, without requiring the establishment of a locally licensed branch or agent in the UK. Such a firm is referred to as being “EEA Authorised” and can market and sell their product to UK customers,whilst ensuring that the activities are fair, clear and not misleading in line with the UK’s relevant regulations. However, this form of authorisation does not allow the financial services firms to hold and/or control clients’ deposits referred to as “Client Money” and ensuring the safe guarding of clients’ assets on behalf of customers. Should the firm authorised in Cyprus with EEA authorisation, become insolvent or become “in default”, UK Customers of such firms would generally not be able to make claims against the firm through the UK’s compensation scheme; the FSCS. Nevertheless, the compensation scheme in Cyprus, where the firm is authorised and regulated may be able to compensate customers if the firm authorised and regulated in Cyprus fails. UK customers can also make complaints against such EEA authorised firms and where they are not satisfied with how their complaint was handled, they have a right to refer their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman in Cyprus.
White Labels: Firms such as Forex brokers in the UK which are authorised and regulated by the FCA, can permit their product or service, such as their online trading platform, to be used by a third party company (the “white label” company) and be rebranded for the white-label’s own client base, known as “white-labelling”. The FCA would require the authorised and regulated Forex broker (the “white label provider”),to take responsibility for the activities of the white label company and must have sufficient oversight arrangements in place over the activities of white label company.
If a white label firm with the rebranded online trading platform is not itself authorised and regulated by the FCA, it is not permitted to hold and/or control “Client Money” and the safe guarding of client assets. The responsibility would lie with the authorised forex broker, which would have the permission to ensure the safeguarding of client assets and holding and/or controlling “Client Money” often with a Custodian bank. Should a customer wish to make a complaint against the white label company, the responsible firm would be the firm which is authorisedand regulated by the FCA to handle the customer’s complaint. Additionally,customers have a right to complaint to the FOS if they are not satisfied with the response they received. Where a customer wishes to make a claim for compensation for their funds and the responsible entity which is the authorised Forex broker happens to be declared in solvent or “in default”, the customer’s claim is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) according to certain limits; such as 100% of the first £50,000 per person, per claim and per investment firm.
Execution only forex broker Authorised and regulated by the FCA：
If an investment firm in the UK wants to provide Forex trading services to customers through an online trading platform, the firm must apply to the FCA to become authorised to do so. They can achieve this by passing certain threshold conditions which a firm is required to satisfy, and continue to satisfy, in order to be given and to retain permission to provide forex trading services.
Such threshold conditions include 5 requirements：firstly the incorporation and registration of the firm’s head office in the United Kingdom; secondly the firm must be capable of being effectively supervised by the FCA, thirdly the firm must have appropriate resources for the continuity of the business being provided including the skills and experience of the firm’s management; fourthly the suitability of the firm; such that the firm’s affairs are able to be conducted in an appropriate manner with regards to the interests of consumers, the integrity of the UK financial system and the need to minimise the extent to which the business carried on by a firm can be used for a purpose connected with financial crime, and finally the firm’s strategy for doing business, the business model, must be suitable for its regulated activities.
Certain authorised forex brokers can be permitted by the FCA to hold and/or control “Client Money” in segregated client accounts with a custodian bank on behalf of its customers, subject to the firm having sufficient systems and controls in place to ensure the safe guarding of client funds and assets. The customers of the FCA authorised Forex brokers are covered by the FSCS and therefore can make claims for compensation against the firm from the FSCS, should the firm become insolvent or be “in default” and cannot meet its financial obligations orclaims for compensation against it.
四、资金安全 Funds security
As we mentioned earlier, we believe the main reason for the popularity of the authorised and regulated investment firms in the UK, is the UK’s stringent financial regulatory system providing consumers with an appropriate degree of protection, and protecting and enhancing the integrity of the UK financial system. Furthermore, customers of such investment firms such as FCA authorised Forex brokers are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (“FSCS”) and therefore can make claims for compensation from the FSCS against the firm; should the firm become insolvent or be “in default” and cannot meet its financial obligations or claims for compensation against it. The compensation limit relevant to FCA authorised forex brokers is 100% of the first £50,000, per person, per claim and per investment firm. The FSCS also provides protection if an authorised investment firm is unable to pay claims against it for loss arising from bad investment advice, poor investment management or misrepresentation provided by an FCA authorised investment firm. In this regards, every effort is made to ensure the security and protection of customers funds.
According to the FCA’s Client Money regulations, an FCA authorised investment firm, such as an FCA authorised Forex broker, needs to separate all client funds from the firm’s own money by placing the clients funds into segregated client accounts with an authorised and regulated custodian bank. The client funds, also referred to as “Client Money” it cannot be used or lent to other creditors or used to finance its own business.
除英国的金融服务补偿计划为客户提供高达五万英镑的资金保护外，一些FCA授权的外汇经纪商购买保险以确保客户资金安全高于金融服务补偿计划的门槛。保险由QBE Underwriting Limited和伦敦劳埃德保险参与集团承保。该政策使这些公司的客户在符合政策的限制和条款的条件下，可以单独获得高达50万英镑的保险（INFINOX英诺已将客户保险升至100万英镑）。但有一点需要注意的是，并不是每个FCA授权的外汇经纪商都购买了这种保险，为外汇交易客户提供多一层的资金保障。当同时满足以下条件时，这些公司的客户可以兑付该额外保险：
In addition to the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme to insure customers funds up to £50,000, certain FCA authorised Forex brokers have purchased an insurance policy to insure client funds above the threshold provided by theFSCS. The insurance policy is underwritten by QBE Underwriting Limited and other participating syndicates at Lloyd’s of London. The policy enables customers of such firms to be individually covered up to £500,000, subject to and in accordance with the limits and the terms and conditions of the Policy. But one thing to note is that not every FCA authorised Forex broker has purchased this insurance policy and can provide this additional layer of insurance for their customers’ funds. Customers of such firms are able to utilise the additional insurance policy when the following conditions are all met:
1. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has made an assessment and determined the FCA authorised Forex broker is insolvent or “in default”.
2. The Insolvency practitioner has determined there is a shortfall in the segregated bank accounts where customer funds are held.
3. The first £50,000 is paid to the Claimant, from the FSCS or other source in respect of the claimant’sloss.
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