Criminal background checks for the Financial Services Industry

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Full criminal background checks must be considered a necessity when hiring for positions within the financial services industry, and certain checks are mandatory in the UK to comply with FCA guidelines.

With over 750,000 people working in the financial services sector in London alone, it is crucial that all firms take their responsibility to hire only suitable candidates seriously, to minimise risk and meet legislation.

All candidates applying for positions in FCA regulated companies must be subject to basic criminal record checking. Furthermore, companies must also assess whether candidates would be considered to be performing a “controlled function”, for example being a director or responsible for compliance. These candidates should be subject to even more stringent screening. FCA recommend that all staff in high risk roles be vetted regularly, and that the specific duties and responsibilities of each role be considered carefully against the need for criminal records checks.

Everyone working in the financial services industry has a responsibility to take reasonable steps to combat financial crime. Therefore, ensuring that all staff are not only legally entitled, but also safe, to work in the financial industry should be considered an obligation rather than a superfluous task.

It is an offense for any financial services company to knowingly employ someone who has been barred from working in the financial sector. But criminality checking is not simply about compliance. Providing a safe work environment for all employees and protecting the interests of customers and clients can help prevent problems which may lead to costly litigation.

It is prudent for all firms in the financial sector create and implement a criminal records policy to ensure that all staff and those responsible for hiring are aware of company procedure and compliance regulations.

With over 20% of the UK working age population registered as having a criminal record, and the financial services providing an attractive employment opportunity for would-be criminals, it is imperative that all candidates have the honesty, integrity and reputation to hold a position of financial responsibility.