Voluntary Application: Financial Conduct Authority

Rationale for applying the Code

Financial Lives is our largest tracking survey of adults and their finances. It is a survey of nearly 13,000 consumers and their use of financial services. The 2017 survey was based on nearly 13,000 face-to-face and online interviews, and reveals a wealth of information about different types of consumer and their experiences of financial products and services. It is a key source of information that underpins our consumer protection work and also provides valuable insights for any organisation focusing on consumers and finance.

The second iteration of the survey is taking place in 2019. It is our ambition to have the statistics produced from the survey to be recognised for the rigour, robustness and accuracy with which they are produced. By voluntarily applying the Code our hope is that this will give confidence to those using the statistics and aid our ambition for the survey results to be the used across the whole sector by a variety of organisations including Government, Consumer Groups and Firms.

Understanding the Code and its impact on our current practices

Our initial investigation on how the Code would apply to our business involved looking at the various statements produced by other organisations and understanding how the Code would apply to our working processes. Fortunately, we work under very tight procurement practices and research standards and much of the Code was applied as part of our standard research process.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is committed to being transparent in how we work. As such we publish all out survey results and are open in how we conduct research. We saw the Code as a useful way to bring together in a single place a clear and succinct document that outlines our process for working with agencies and the decision-making process for how we select certain methodologies and outputs to achieve our research goals and value for money.

Getting working level buy-in

With other commitments and priorities it was important to secure the time to think through the code and its implications, as well as write the statement of compliance (PDF, 0.40MB).

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) was helpful in being open to having discussions how it would affect our business while we saw the benefits:

  • To users of the findings – our results are used by other regulators, industry and consumer groups. As well as being used in our regulatory responses to Government and in policy documents.
  • To respondents to the survey – providing reassurance on how we treat personal data.

Getting senior staff support

It was necessary to set out the benefits and risks to the FCA senior leadership team. It was decided to apply the code to the Financial Lives Survey and once implemented we would look for opportunities to apply the code to other surveys and data collection exercises. The FCA produces a number of statistics both from consumer research and firm regulatory returns (such as complaints data).

Drafting and finalising our statement of voluntary compliance

We sought the support of OSR when writing our statement of compliance. This involved initial telephone conversations and a presentation by OSR to the FCA research team and Data Protection experts.

With help from OSR we finalised our statement of compliance which was signed off and ready for publication.

Applying the Code in practice

The voluntary statement of compliance was published in advance of fieldwork for wave 2 of the Financial Lives Survey. The statement of compliance sits on the FCA website alongside our survey privacy statement and message for consumers. Together we feel that these provide reassurances to respondents and users of data.