It’s important to make sure the firm you are dealing with have all the correct paperwork. If not, you could risk losing your money when sending or receiving money from abroad.
What is the FCA?
The FCA – Financial Conduct Authority – is the regulator for financial services firms and financial markets in the UK, currently dealing with over 56,000 firms. They work to ensure that consumers are protected, amongst other objectives such as protecting financial markets and promoting competition in the interests of consumers.
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All UK-based firms dealing with international money transfers need to be either authorised or registered by the FCA. This gives your money a degree of protection, though this varies depending on whether the company is FCA authorised or registered.
What is the difference between FCA authorised and FCA registered?
Though it may not be obvious, there is a clear difference between being FCA authorised or FCA registered.
Being FCA Authorised means there are certain safeguards on your money, but you are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This means that if the firm you are using fails and can’t pay the money back, you’re unlikely to get your money back. However, firms authorised by the FCA need to safeguard your money by keeping it separate from company funds, so if a firm goes bust, you are more likely to get your money back.
Being FCA registered is a much weaker level of protection for you, the consumer. To be FCA registered, the firm only needs to show the FCA that it is based in the UK and that none of its managers have been convicted of financial crimes. They may also choose to safeguard your money by placing it separate to company funds, but are not obliged to do so by law.
How do I check if a firm is authorised or registered with the FCA?
The FCA keeps a list of all the registered and authorised firms in the UK – you can search for a firm here.
If the firm you’re looking for isn’t on the register, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s operating illegally – they may just be based elsewhere. Having a look at their papers or looking for any information on their website may be a good indicator as to where they are based. If they are based in the EU, you can check their authorisation by contacting the consumer helpline on 0845 606 1234.
However, if a firm isn’t registered with the FCA or any EU regulator, it’s probably best to avoid them, as they may be operating illegally.
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