FCA invests in flexible working but reminds firms of regulatory duties

The FCA has spent millions on remote working tech but tells firms to remember regulations

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is making its commitment to flexible working clear by spending over £5 million on new laptops and mobile phones. Yet, they maintain that financial services firms must prove their remote working operations don’t breach industry regulations.

The FCA supports flexible working

The data obtained using Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation and analysed by the Parliament Street think tank found that between April 2021 and August 2021, 5,850 new laptops were purchased by the FCA.

Although the exact spend per laptop was not disclosed, they stated that the spending range was between £5,000,000 – £10,000,000 for laptops over the last year.

The FCA also purchased 307 Samsung phones and 39 iPhones and spent up to £100,000 doing so.

The FCA procured 5500 Microsoft licenses for Office 365 in 2019, and last year, it sourced 5,200 Microsoft licenses. In 2021, 5,300 Microsoft licenses were procured by the organisation. These purchases would have cost the FCA between £1,000,000 – £5,000,000 each year.

Interestingly, the FCA’s investment in remote working technology follows its warning about the risks of remote working to businesses and its recommendations for firms that use a remote or hybrid employment model.

According to its guidelines, companies must demonstrate that remote working “does not hinder their capacity to fulfil the threshold for the regulated activity they have or will have approval for.”

Firms must ensure that remote working doesn’t compromise their ability to “monitor functions”, prevent harm to consumers, or stop financial crime. Nor should remote operations “compromise market integrity.”

Staying compliant while operating remotely or hybrid style

Hybrid working expert Sridhar Iyengar, MD for cloud software firm Zoho Europe said: “Increased digitalisation is critical to any business operating today, but adapting to a flexible remote or hybrid work model requires more than just technology investment.

“Companies must ensure that staff are provided with the provisions, care, guidance, and infrastructure to effectively adapt to new operational changes, no matter the size of business or whether they are private or public companies.

“As services become increasingly digitalised, it’s important that businesses equip themselves with the right tools and platform to ensure that they run as efficiently as when workers were office-based.

“The working model switch should not prove a hindrance to any aspect of performance. Organisations must ensure they remain compliant with the regulations they are governed by, in the same way they would need to with any working model.”

Security specialist Edward Blake, Area Vice President EMEA for Absolute Software, said: “Remote working is evidently one of the favoured operational models, but organisations which opt for it must ensure that they are protecting the additional devices and users on a given network.

“Even the UK’s regulators aren’t safe from the onslaught of cybercrime aimed at newly remote workers, and it’s essential that IT decision-makers have full visibility over their network of distributed devices. What’s more, adopting a Zero Trust approach to network data and application access is imperative to ensuring that malicious actors which will, or even already have, gained access are stopped in their tracks.”


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