FCA innovation dept grows 350% to keep up with robo-advice services

Pedro Gonçalves
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The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Project Innovate team has grown by over 350% over four years as it struggles to keep up with the burgeoning robo-advice services.

Salaries at the UK watchdog’s Project Innovate department range from a minimum of £20,000 a year to a maximum £200,000 for a head of department, a role it created last year, New Model Advisor reports.

The headcount has increased from a six-person team in 2014 to 27 in 2018. It has doubled every year from 2016.

Project Innovate was established by the FCA in 2014 to support firms bringing tech-based services to market and has grown the team to work across all ‘innovation services.

In a recent report, the FCA revealed some robo-advice firms were failing to properly disclose prices and services, and crucially, the regulator flagged risks clients were not receiving suitable advice.

As a result, the FCA has required many of the robo-advisers which took part to make “significant changes” to their businesses.

The FCA received 77 applications for the second phase of the regulatory sandbox, an increase from the 69 applications from the first phase. The FCA supported 24 firms to complete testing.

It received 61 applications for the third phase of the sandbox and is currently supporting 18 firms to test their concepts. The sandbox has had over 1,000 requests for support since its inception.