The UK financial sector watchdog has launched a review of the wholesale markets, where large institutions and organisations source capital to fund their activities, amid competition concerns.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is asking for views on the competitiveness across the wholesale securities and investment markets.

It will look for evidence of potential barriers to entry or expansion, information asymmetries, conflicts of interest, among other anti-competitiveness.

Wholesale financial markets allow governments, banks and large companies to source a significant amount of capital, for example by selling tranches of bonds.

They also allow those with more capital than they currently need, such as banks with excess liquidity, to make money on it by lending it out at interest.

And they are also used by pension funds, which pool together their investors' assets and seek to make decent returns for a healthy retirement income.

The ability of finance firms and insurers to pool funds from customers and investors, which can then be invested on mass in the wholesale markets, eases down costs at the business and retail consumer end.

"It is vital that wholesale financial markets are efficient, fair and competitive," said Christopher Woolard, director of policy, risk and research at the FCA.

"Effective competition within the wholesale sector can lead to an increase in institutional efficiency, lower prices, greater innovation and can improve the quality and range of financial services provided.

"Improvements in competition should contribute to the sustainable development of the financial system, and have positive knock-on effects for retail consumers and real economy businesses."