Hello and welcome to the Fides Weekly Update. Take a look at this week’s key trends, moves and developments in legal and compliance.
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1). FCA doubles the number of City directors investigated since 2016
New data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reveals it has more than doubled the amount of directors being investigated in the last two years, reports the Financial Times.
As of December 2018, the FCA was investigating 58 directors compared to 24 in 2016, with more than half of these investigations centred on failings of governance and culture.
The Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR), introduced in 2016 to reinforce the personal accountability of senior managers to prevent wrongdoing within their teams, as well as a surge in whistleblower complaints about sexual harassment, homophobia and bulling have been attributed to the increase in investigations.
In 2018 alone, the regulator saw a 220 per cent increase in people complaining about “non-financial” behaviour.
Currently limited to banks, building societies, credit unions and insurers, the expansion of the SMCR to the rest of the financial services sector by the end of year is likely to increase a further surge of investigations into directors.
However, the only public finding by the FCA under the SMCR to date has been the fine on Barclays chief executive Jes Staley for twice trying to uncover the identity of an anonymous whistleblower.
The regulator is also prioritising the treatment of vulnerable customers, which could also account for the spike in the number of investigations into directors.
However, the watchdog faced criticism this week for not being quick enough to respond to red flags raised about London Capital & Finance, whose £236m collapse in January has left 11,600 retail customers – many of whom were first-time investors or pensioners – unsure whether they will get their money back.
2). US GC’s outline the next steps for law firm diversity
Foll0wing the open letter signed by over 200 US GC’s demanding greater diversity in the legal profession, General Counsel for Law Firm Diversity have published a list of proven strategies and tactics to help in-house counsel achieve their mission.
In collaboration with DiversityLab and thought leaders in the legal industry’s diversity and inclusion space, the document sets out three areas where intervention by in-house counsel can improve diversity, and a number of suggestions on how best to approach this.
“The letter was designed to be a statement of principle. It wasn’t designed to have specific action items in it” said Michelle Fang, CLO of US car-sharing company Turo who is spearheading the initiative. “As I thought about what’s next, I wanted to figure out the more tangible things that general counsel can do.”
The open letter which was circulated in January following the Paul Weiss promotions scandal was initially signed by 170 general counsel. Since then, about 60 more companies’ top lawyers have added their names, including the legal department heads of Axiom, Sophos and NetApp Inc.
The strategies and tactics outlined in the document can be summarised as follows:
Oil and gas specialist Tracey Renshaw, co-founder of CC’s Perth office, joins DLA in London
Former Roche general counsel Funke Abimbola MBE leaves the firm after a brief tenur
Niall Best and Doug McMahon have been promoted to partner in New York, and Laura Treacy appointed in Brussel, as the firm expands for the first time outside Dublin and London
Office Openings & Closings
Inclusion and Diversity
Technology and Innovation