Financial Conduct Authority
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is an independent non-governmental body, formed following the restructuring of the Financial Services Authority in 2013. They are a company limited by guarantee and financed by the financial services industry. The FCA is accountable to Treasury Ministers, and through them to Parliament. It is operationally independent of Government and is funded entirely by the firms it regulates.
Through the following link you can see how being registered with the FCA provides the following benefits for both the Union and its members:
A recent response from the Finance Committee Chairman provides a more in depth explanation of the financial and governance workings of the Union:
1. SOS is constituted as an Industrial Provident Society and registered with the Finacial Services Authority. As such, the organisation must generate a surplus (AKA “profit”) in order to remain solvent and continue to legally exist. However, none of these surpluses are to be distributed to members in the form of dividends (as would happen in a “normal” limited company). In this sense the organisation can rightly be termed “not for profit”.
Money generated may only be spent in furthering the objects of the union, as set out in the constitution – available to all members and filed at the Financial Services Authority. In order to ensure that this happens there are two levels of scrutiny. Firstly, expenditure has to be signed off be two members of the Management Committee. After this, the Finance Committee is requested to process the payment, with two members of the Finance Committee being required to ensure payments are signed off by the Mangement Committee and then subsequently sign the cheque for payment.
In order to ensure independence and seperation of duties, the Finance Committee members would not ordinarily be members of the Management Committee (However, until the AGM, a member of the Finance Committee is temporarily acting as Vice Chair of the Union). It seems a bit complicated, but it works, spreads responsibility and ensures that spending is scrutinised by an independent body (with two qualified accountants on it).
2. Regarding members “profiting” from “deals”, where members submit the best priced quote for a particular job, then provided an interest is declared they are allowed to receive “reasonable” payment. In practice, the members are actually providing services at little or no cost; e.g the constitution was drafted and submitted for free (saved thousands of pounds), the website is being produced at much less than cost price (saved thousands of pounds), the members involved in organising the End Of Season Night all paid for tickets (even one of the main organisers who was stuck in Pontins and couldn’t get to the Olympia!) The only people who may get free travel on the coaches will be the stewards (and that is still to be decided), and they will be picked on the basis of ability to do the job.
Rest assured that every penny spent from union funds is scrutinised in minute detail – no-one will be profiteering.
3. Answered above, and as governed by our constitution.
4. As an IPS, the union is legally bound to make its accounts public. In fact, one of the tasks we discussed at tonight’s Finance Committee was the appointment of external auditors to verify the accuracy and completeness of the accounts. All accounts, the constitution, and details of Management Committee membership will be filed with the Financial Services Authority and available for public scrutiny.
In addition to the above, we are preparing arrangements for an AGM – as agreed when we first established the existing Management Committee – and this will give any bona fide member the opportunity to stand for election to the Mangement Committee. The election will be managed by an independent third party (probably the Electoral Reform Society) and we will be looking at using our soon to be launched website for online nominations and, if possible, online voting for non-local members.