The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Prepare for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recruitment process with tailor-made practice materials.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Aptitude Tests

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was set up by parliament in 2013 to regulate, supervise and set standards for financial services firms and financial markets.

Currently, the FCA is the conduct regulator for 51,000 financial services firms and financial markets, is the prudential supervisor for 49,000 firms, and sets specific standards for 18,000 firms.

With the aim to make finances honest, fair, and effective, the operational objectives of the FCA are:

  • Protect consumers
  • Protect financial markets
  • Promote competition.

Working for the FCA is a dream job for those who are passionate about fairness, acting with integrity, and can make sound judgements - and a good feel for financial matters will help, too.

Careers At The Financial Conduct Authority

Careers with the FCA can be categorised depending on entry-level - there are many positions available for Experienced Professionals as well as in-depth programmes for Early Careers.

With offices in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, all applicants can enjoy a host of rewards and benefits including:

  • Competitive Salary
  • Flexible working arrangements including work from home options
  • Generous annual leave
  • Continuous learning and development with the FCA Academy
  • Non-contributory pension
  • Private healthcare
  • Subsidised on-site fitness centre (in London) and subsidised restaurant in all offices
  • Sports and social clubs
  • Free eye tests
  • Interest-free season ticket loans
  • Performance-based bonus

The opportunities for early careers include apprenticeships, summer internships, work placements and graduate programmes, and all include rewards and benefits including the opportunity to 'get stuck in' from day one.

Types Of FCA Jobs

Apprenticeship opportunities last for 18-36 months depending on the job area, and candidates who demonstrate passion, integrity, ambition and aptitude with at least five GCSEs at grades A-C and two A-Levels are welcome to apply.

Opportunities for apprenticeships are available in Accounts, Project Management. Business Administration, HR, Compliance and Risk, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Cyber Security, Digital Marketing, and Customer Advisor among others.

Short-term work placements are available to Masters students studying Public Policy who need to complete a specific research project in a financial institution.

Internships and Graduate Programmes are available across the whole business for students who have achieved, or are on track to achieve, a 2:1 or above from any university.

Summer interns can choose a 10-week placement in Technology and Change, Data Science, or as a Generalist.

For graduates, placements are available in:

  • Data Science
  • Economics
  • Strategy and Competition
  • Supervision
  • Cyber and Information Resilience
  • Enforcement
  • Human Resources
  • International
  • Market Oversight
  • Technology and Change

As part of the Graduate Programme, not only will you receive a £34,000 annual salary and on-the-job training in your chosen field with a rotational schedule so that you can get stuck in throughout the department, but you will also have access to the full FCA Academy.

The FCA Academy is a learning and development resource that combines formal tuition with self-directed learning to build a learning culture and share information. Subjects include accounting, financial markets and services as well as IT systems, but also information about regulations, project management and people management. The FCA Academy is designed to be used to enhance personal effectiveness, offer external learning and qualifications, and help develop employees through structured learning plans.

How To Get Hired At The Financial Conduct Authority

The FCA have specific values that inform the entire business, and it is these values that they are looking for in potential employees.

To get hired at the FCA, you need to meet the minimum requirements of the role, whether that is a specific qualification, set of skills, or experience, and demonstrate that you match the company values.

  • Deliver in the public interest
  • Act with integrity
  • Be ambitious
  • Work inclusively
  • Connect and deliver

The application process is broadly similar whether you are applying as an experienced professional or want to take advantage of the early career opportunities.

FCA Application Process Stages

FCA Application

The first step is to search for the role you are looking to apply for online, using the FCA Career page of the website.

In the job description, you will find details of what the role will involve, and a list of minimum, essential, and desirable skills needed for the position.

The application form will ask questions to ensure that you meet the minimum standards for the position, including your education, experience and relative skills.

If you meet the criteria, you will then be invited to take some online aptitude tests.

FCA Numerical Reasoning Test

The FCA uses SHL, TalentQ or Kenexa tests, depending on the position that you have applied for. The numerical reasoning assessments created by these publishers are all broadly the same in terms of content and structure.

In a numerical reasoning test, you are being assessed on your ability to quickly read, understand and analyse information presented in tables, charts and datasets. To correctly answer the questions provided, you will need to perform some basic mathematical operations, and choose from the multiple-choice answers provided.

Numerical reasoning tests are not particularly challenging in terms of mathematical knowledge - the operators needed to answer the questions are basic addition, multiplication, subtraction and division as well as percentages, ratios and fractions.

The difficulty of these questions comes from the manipulation of data in unfamiliar forms and the fact that this assessment is timed so calculations need to be made quickly and accurately for the best result.

There is usually a 30-minute time limit.

FCA Logical Reasoning Test

Logical reasoning assessments test your ability to use limited information in a logical way to reach the correct conclusion, and in the FCA test you are being assessed using a series of images or shapes.

In each question, you will be presented with a sequence of images, and you will need to decide which of the multiple-choice options is the correct image to complete the sequence.

In order to answer this question correctly, you need to identify the pattern that governs the sequence and how each image or shape relates to the next.

While this assessment does not require any previous knowledge, the inductive logic needed to answer correctly is a skill that most people will need to practice beforehand. This is a test with a very short time limit - you will be expected to answer 24 questions in just 12 minutes so speed and accuracy are necessary.

FCA Situational Judgement Test

The Situational Judgement Test is an assessment of your work behaviour and personality traits that helps the recruitment team decide if you are a good fit for the role and the company culture as a whole.

In this assessment, you will be presented with some hypothetical yet realistic scenarios based on the job role that you have applied for.

Following each scenario will be two potential courses of action that could be used to deal with the situation, and you need to decide which would be most appropriate and which would be least appropriate.

While there are not strictly any right or wrong answers like there are in the reasoning assessments, the way you answer SJT questions will be compared against the key competencies for the role in problem-solving, teamwork, leadership and communication.

Motivational Questions

If you are successful in the online aptitude tests, you will be presented with a Motivational Questionnaire.

This consists of four questions about why you have applied for the FCA, and why you have chosen the role you have applied for.

Each question has a free text box where you can answer in 500 words or less. This is a chance for you to demonstrate your wider commercial awareness as well as your future career aspirations and how the FCA programme you have chosen fits in your plans.

Telephone Interview

Once you have completed the online tests, if you are successful you will be invited to a telephone interview.

This takes approximately 30 minutes, and you can expect to discuss your application form, qualifications and experiences.

Questions in this interview will be:

  • Motivational - Why choose the FCA?
  • Competencies - Do you have the required competencies to be successful?
  • Values - Do your personal values match the FCA values?

In answering these questions, you will be expected to provide evidence by describing situations that demonstrate your skills, competencies and values.

To prepare best for this interview, look at the company values and think of something from either your work experience, or perhaps your university experience, that demonstrates these values. You can do the same for the key competencies that are in the job description, too.

Try and make sure that the way you recount the situations is concise and clear - this is why preparation can make a difference.

FCA Assessment Centre

The FCA assessment centre is a half-day experience held at the office.

During this time, you can expect to take part in three activities, while being continually assessed for your in-person characteristics and competencies.

  • Analysis task: This is an individual exercise where you will be presented with a case study and will need to analyse the information to present a solution.
  • Group Exercise: All members of the group will be given separate but related information and will need to collaborate and share the information to make a decision and present the findings.
  • Interview: Two FCA assessors will ask questions in a one-on-one interview. These are likely to be a combination of motivational and competency-based questions, similar to the telephone interview.

If you are successful, you can expect to begin the onboarding process, and if you are not, the recruitment team will send you detailed feedback.

Tips To Get Hired

Practice FCA Tests

When it comes to aptitude tests, the content might not be considered challenging - but practice makes perfect.

Find FCA-style numerical reasoning, logical reasoning, and situational judgement tests to practice. Practice them under test conditions, with a timer, and focus on treating them like the real thing so that you get the full experience as part of your practice.

Re-take Questions You Get Incorrect

Although it might be tempting to concentrate on questions that you find easy, retaking questions that you get wrong in the practice sessions will help you hone in on your weaknesses and help you improve in general.

With timed assessments, you do not want to spend too much of your time on hard questions and risk missing out on easy marks for questions that you find simple.

Everyone has parts of an assessment that they find challenging, but extra practice in this area will benefit your overall score.

Do Your Homework

The FCA interview questions, whether motivational or competency-based, are also assessing your knowledge.

You need to know all you can about the job role and responsibilities, how the position fits in the FCA business, and how the FCA works in the wider economic market.

It is important that throughout the application process you can refer to your research and knowledge about the FCA because the recruiters want to know you are taking the application seriously.

Understand FCA Values

The FCA values underpin the whole business and the way that it monitors and regulates financial bodies and markets. Understanding what this means will help you provide excellent examples of your personal value system that aligns with what the FCA wants to achieve.

In each of the core values, you will find some personal competencies and aptitudes.

  • Deliver in Public Interest: candidates should be resourceful, put the public first, and stay informed
  • Act with Integrity: candidates should be open and honest, courageous, and accountable.
  • Be Ambitious: Candidates should be forward-thinking and ready to challenge, and actions should be fast and fair
  • Work Inclusively: Candidates should be good colleagues who get the full picture and keep an open mind.
  • Connect and Deliver: Candidates should be able to forge productive links and join things up while supporting and challenging each other.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The 4 Main Objectives Of The FCA?

The overarching objective of the FCA is the aim to make markets fair, honest, and effective, and to achieve this it has set out three operational objectives that inform every part of the business.

  • Protect Consumers
  • Protect Financial Markets
  • Promote Competition

What Are The 11 FCA Principles?

To become an FCA Authorised financial institution or market, companies must adhere to the FCA Principles, which are:

  1. Integrity
  2. Skill, care and diligence
  3. Management and control
  4. Financial prudence
  5. Market conduct
  6. Customer's interests
  7. Communication with clients
  8. Managing conflicts of interest
  9. Building 5elationships of trust with customers
  10. Protecting client's assets
  11. Maintaining a relationship with regulators

Are The FCA Tests Difficult?

As previously mentioned, the content in the FCA assessments is not difficult, but unfamiliarity and tight time limits make them harder.

The assessments are used as part of the screening process in recruitment, to sort potential candidates by their natural aptitudes and ensure that the best applicants are taken forward to the next stages. This means that they need to be challenging enough to be useful, but still accessible to all.

In all assessments, practice will help make the assessments more familiar, and the more realistic the practice the better the results.

How Long Is The Financial Conduct Authority Hiring Process?

Depending on the role you are applying for, the FCA hiring process can be lengthy. For experienced professionals, the closing date for applications will be noted in the job description, and for early careers, applications are only open for a certain time frame the year before the programme starts.

You can expect the process to take about eight weeks from the initial application to offer.

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