Purpose – To provide a practical insight into the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) “Treating Customers Fairly” (TCF) initiative for financial services firms endeavouring to implement such an approach. Design/methodology/approach – This qualitative paper subjectively considers the TCF initiative in the context of the wider ethical approach to financial services by drawing an analogy with the FSA's earlier initiative in seeking to establish an ethical framework for financial services. Reference is made to recent practitioner literature and supported by key academic literature where appropriate. Findings – The paper highlights the FSA's aim of adopting a high-principled regulatory approach to TCF as a real alternative to highly prescriptive rules. It consider the scope of TCF and the inherent practical implications for firms seeking to implement such a policy by drawing an analogy between TCF and the ethical framework for financial services. Research limitations/implications – The paper is a useful insight into TCF from a critical, practical perspective and is part of a wider organizational cultural change debate which may be developed as the experience of the FSA and those it regulates matures. Practical implications – The paper suggests that TCF is part of a greater need for the FSA and financial services firms to review their business in terms of an ethical approach, which in turn requires them to consider organizational cultural change. Originality/value – The paper questions the FSA's strategic approach to embedding fairness in a firm's value system as part of TCF, rather than recognizing the TCF is a major component of the broader and more beneficial goal of changing a firms's ethical culture.
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