The FCA has published Discussion Paper 15/7: Our approach to SMEs as users of financial services (DP15/7), which reviews the way in which small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that use financial services are treated in its rules, as well as some of the recent evidence of poor outcomes experienced by such businesses.

In particular the FCA is seeking views on:

  • whether the level of protection provided to SMEs in its Handbook is broadly right;
  • whether its rules should treat more SMEs like individual consumers and extend provisions reserved only for the smallest SMEs to larger ones;
  • how good practices could best be promoted among firms; and
  • whether more ambitious voluntary standards could provide an alternative to, or complement, changes to its rules.

The FCA would also like respondents to consider some more specific options available to it. In particular, the FCA wants to know whether more SMEs should be eligible to complain to the ombudsman service and be covered by its complaints handling rules, and whether some rules applying to firms’ dealings with individual consumers should also cover SME clients, or cover a greater share of SMEs than they currently do.

The FCA will use responses to DP15/7, alongside evidence from discussions and roundtables with stakeholders, to consider whether to consult on changing its rules or take other action.

The deadline for comments to DP15/7 is 18 March 2016.

View DP15/7: Our approach to SMEs as users of financial services, 27 November 2015