Whistleblower reports fall for first time in five years

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that whistleblower reports to the Financial Conduct Authority dropped by 9% between 2019 and 2020 (from 1,179 to 1,073) and anonymous reports by 29% (from 291 to 206).

The is first year-on-year fall since 2016, with steady growth in reports between then and 2019.

Risk consultants at Kroll, which submitted the FoI request, put the fall in reports down to remote working and consequent limited accidental discovery of questionable and illicit business practices.

Benedict Hamilton, managing director, business intelligence and investigations, Kroll, said: “After a number of year-on-year increases in whistleblowing reports and an apparently growing culture of rooting out wrongdoing, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing remote working environment seem to have halted this progress. It is highly likely that the reduced visibility which colleagues have over others is behind the drop.

“Internal monitoring and compliance procedures for many businesses probably need to be increased, particularly at times when large numbers of staff are working from home.”

Just two months ago, the FCA launched a campaign to encourage individuals to report wrongdoing in financial services.

At the time of the launch, executive director of enforcement and market oversight, Mark Steward said: 'We want all whistleblowers to feel welcomed by us and to feel safe because of us.

“We listen to all whistleblowers and, if they shine a light on serious misconduct, we want to make sure we act responsibly. When whistleblowing works well it helps consumers, markets and firms and keeps everyone safe and that is our aim.”

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