Financial Services Regulatory

Financial services firms that carry on regulated activities in the UK and the individuals that perform controlled functions for those firms are regulated by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA') under the UK Financial Services and Markets Act ('FSMA') regime. The FSMA regime (as amended by the Financial Services Act 2012) has introduced a further regulator, the Prudential Regulatory Authority ('PRA') for dual-regulated firms such as deposit takers and insurers.

The immediate outcome of the banking crisis was the more 'intrusive' and intense policing of the FSMA regime by the FCA's predecessor (the FSA) in the UK, with the FSA seeking to make judgments on the judgments of the senior management of its regulated firms. This pro active regulatory approach has been reinforced with the UK's Financial Services Act 2012 giving the FCA additional powers to intervene and take action against the firms and the individuals that it regulates.

There has also been greater international co-ordination and co-operation between national regulators in relation to policy and individual cases with the US's Dodd-Frank Act also providing the US regulators with greater powers and 'reach'.

We work closely with firms and their individuals in:

  • Scoping the extent that the FSMA regime applies to any activities and promotional activity that they may want to carry on in the UK
  • Establishing new financial products and services that comply with any applicable UK regulations
  • Applying for the appropriate FCA (and PRA) Authorisations and Approvals in relation to any regulated activities carried on in the UK
  • Providing ongoing regulatory advice in relation to the FCA (and PRA) Principles and Rules applicable to their FCA (and PRA) Authorisations and Approvals
  • Handling any FCA (and PRA) Supervision and Enforcement inquiries and investigations that may affect them
  • Defending FCA (and PRA) Enforcement proceedings against them
  • Any related civil proceedings to regulatory actions
  • Considering the international regulatory dimensions especially with the US.

Harvey Knight worked with the FSA's Authorisation, Supervision and Enforcement Divisions for six years. He ensures our team has a unique insight into the:

  • Scope of the FSMA regime
  • FSMA controller requirements
  • FCA (and PRA) Handbook
  • FCA (and PRA) Authorisation and Approvals Fit and Proper regime
  • FCA (and PRA) ‘non routine' Approval applications
  • FCA (and PRA) Authorisation, Supervision and Enforcement Divisions and the interaction between them
  • FCA (and PRA) investigation and internal decision making processes
  • Referrals to the independent Financial Services and Markets Tribunal
  • Interaction between the regulatory regime and common law
  • He and his team works closely with our US, European, Asian and BVI offices in providing an international as well as a national perspective, on and offshore.

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We are an equal opportunity employer committed to enhancing diversity within the workplace.

We recognize and value the benefits that a diverse workforce can bring to the organization. Diversity is not limited to gender and ethnicity, and includes factors such as religion or belief, disability, age, marital status and sexual orientation. All our employees and Partners are responsible for the promotion and advancement of equality and diversity within the Firm.

Much of our work on diversity in the last three years has been about putting good monitoring tools in place to ensure that we understand where the gaps are within our workforce, making changes to our strategies and communicating our policy on equal opportunities and diversity to our staff and training those involved in managing and recruiting others.

Since 2002, Withers has experienced a period of growth. The expansion of our client base has highlighted our clients' need for a highly skilled and diverse workforce. The business need to support diversity is evident and Chris Priestley (a Partner in our Commercial group) has been nominated to ensure that Diversity is high on the partnership agenda.

Diversity Audit

In 2006 we undertook our first diversity audit of our workforce, monitoring age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity and disability. New joiners are monitored on an ongoing basis. Our diversity statistics are published below.

Communication of our commitment to Diversity

Each year our staff are asked to acknowledge their understanding of and commitment to the Firm’s Equal Opportunities Policy as part of our annual audit.

Our Supervisors and Partners receive training to ensure they understand their obligations in implementing our equal opportunity policy in the workplace.

In addition, all interview panelists are trained in the Firm’s approach to diversity and given guidance on our structured skill based approach to interviewing.

Promotion and Access to Development

Opportunities for promotion are communicated and made available to all staff on a fair and equal basis. A skills framework is used in all promotion, appraisal, and pay discussions to ensure a consistent and fair approach across the Firm.

Selection of candiates for promotion to 'Of Counsel or Partner' status is undertaken by a panel of Withers Partners, whose selection decisions are based upon technical expertise and pre-defined partner competencies.

Training is made available to all staff and Partners in line with our business needs. Training needs are recognized formally via our appraisal process, which is objective and skill based, to ensure a fair and equal approach.

Recognition for Diversity

Withers was ranked 2nd (out of the top 100 law firms) for having a high percentage of female equity partners in The Lawyer Career Report Survey 2006.

Withers also ranked 2nd (out of the top 50 firms) for Diversity with respect to women and ranked 1st for Diversity with respect for Gay and Lesbians in the Vault survey 2006.

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