This is the first annual plan for the regulator since Nikhil Rathi joined as chief executive in October.
Rathi (pictured) said: “The FCA must continue to become a forward-looking, proactive regulator. One that is tough, assertive, confident, decisive and agile.
“One that acts, acts fast—and where we can’t act, engages enthusiastically with those who can. Continuing to be more innovative, assertive and adaptive.”
As the regulator expected firms to keep pace with the changing world, its daily regulation also needed to adapt, it said.
The plan stated: “As the regulatory context becomes more complex, and the numbers we regulate increase, we need to invest, to grow and develop our capabilities. This will enable us to move swiftly, and make confident, well-informed decisions from complex information.
“We also need to broaden our approach to the way we choose and use our wide range of regulatory tools, to improve our reach and impact across all regulated firms.”
The plan said FCA would ensure it had the necessary skills to supervise firms amid a digitisation of the market, sped up by the coronavirus pandemic.
It also proposed that in order to meet the needs of borrowers, it would put measures in place to allow firms to exercise flexibility in the interests of customers.
It said it wanted customers to find products that fit their needs, not become over-indebted through borrowing and to have access to affordable credit in a smooth way.
The FCA said it wanted all regulated firms to focus on customer and market outcomes when designing and delivering services.
Nikhil Rathi added: “Over the next 18 months you will continue to see an FCA that looks and feels even more different. One that operates, partners and communicates differently.
“One that delivers market integrity and delivers for the consumers that we serve. One that is not only purposeful but that is fit for purpose.
“There is a lot of work to do. I am confident that we have the right strategy, people and ambition to do it.”
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) welcomed the plan, saying the initiatives would help reduce its levy.
Caroline Rainbird, chief executive at FSCS, said: “We have been clear that tackling the root causes of these harms is the only way to sustainably reduce the levy over the coming years, and it is very encouraging to see the detail in the FCA’s business plan around this.
“We all recognise that the complex problem of consumer harm will be solved only by the entire industry working together, supported by those with the powers to make changes and enforce them.”