Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the conduct regulator for 59,000 financial services firms and financial markets in the UK and the prudential regulator for over 18,000 of those firms. 

FCA Innovation supports firms with innovative business models and further promotes innovation in the interests of consumers.

Within Innovation, the Innovate Department is committed to encouraging innovation through the following initiatives:

  • Regulatory Sandbox: Apply if you are an innovative firm ready to test
  • Direct Support: Request tailored regulatory support for innovative firms
  • Advice Unit: Feedback to firms developing automated advice and guidance models
  • Policy & Engagement 


What is the difference between the Direct Support, the Regulatory Sandbox and the Advice Unit?

The three teams all support innovative firms who are looking to launch a new product or service in financial services. All teams can work with firms who are already authorised, firms who want to become authorised, and firms who are not doing a regulated activity at all. They differ primarily in terms of the firms they deal with, and the kind of support they provide.

Direct Support helps innovative firms answer regulatory questions, and helps them to understand the FCA’s regulatory regime and our expectations of firms who are seeking to provide financial services. This can be anything from helping a firm with a tech background and a great idea to understand how regulation works and why firms need to be authorised, to answering a detailed and complicated query about the use of a particular technology.

The Regulatory Sandbox allows firms to test out innovative products or services in a controlled regulatory environment. Firms can use the Sandbox to determine whether a business model is attractive to consumers, or whether a particular technology actually works in a live environment. We particularly like to see firms test that the proposition delivers the intended consumer benefit. Generally speaking, firms in the Sandbox will be carrying out regulated activities, but we do also support innovators that are partnering with or providing services to regulated firms. 

The Advice Unit exists to provide regulatory feedback, detailed answers to specific questions on the regulatory implications of a model, in the same way as Direct Support, except that its focus is on firms providing automated financial advice or financial guidance services. The Advice Unit covers the following sectors – investments, protection, mortgages, general insurance, debt and pensions. 


12 Endeavour Square , London , London , E20 1JN , United Kingdom



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Meet the team at Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Nick Cook

Director of Innovation

Nick is the first Director of the recently created Innovation division at the FCA.