The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a consultation paper on making changes to its rules following the extension to the deadline by which FCA solo-regulated firms need to have implemented the Certification Regime.
In June, the Treasury announced that the deadline by which firms must have first assessed the fitness and propriety of their Certified Staff will be delayed until 31 March 2021.
The regulator believes this delay will give firms, who have been significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), time to make the changes they need.
To ensure other SM&CR deadlines remain consistent and to provide extra time for firms that need it, the FCA is consulting on extending the deadline for the following requirements from 9 December 2020 to 31 March 2021:
- the date the Conduct Rules come into force
- the deadline for submission of information about Directory Persons to the FS Register
- changing references in the rules to the deadline for assessing Certified Persons as fit and proper (which has been announced by the Treasury)
If firms are able to certify staff and submit information about Directory Persons to the FS Register earlier than March 2021 they should do so. The FCA will still publish details of certified employees of solo firms starting from 9 December 2020 on the FS Register as the FCA expects that this published information will be of immediate benefit to consumers and firms.
Jonathan Davidson, FCA executive director of supervision, retail and authorisations, said: “These proposed changes recognise the exceptional stress placed on financial services firms by the Covid-19 pandemic and the importance for firms to fully and properly implement the Certification Regime and to train staff effectively in the Conduct Rules.
“We continue to place great importance on the Certification Regime and the Conduct Rules and see this as an opportunity to raise the bar permanently around conduct, competence and culture in the financial services industry.
“We expect firms to use this extra time, if they need it, to implement Certification and Conduct Rules training to the highest standards.”
The FCA is consulting alongside the parliamentary process to give regulated firms certainty and finalise policy as soon as possible.
The FCA expects accountable Senior Managers to ensure that all Certified Persons are fit and proper. Firms should not wait to remove staff who are not fit and proper from certified roles. Similarly, accountable Senior Managers must ensure that Conduct Rules training is effective, so that staff are aware of the Conduct Rules and understand how they apply to them in their jobs. These programmes will require planning, time and effort to deliver effectively.
As the Certification Regime and reporting of Directory Persons do not apply to benchmark administrators, the FCA does not intend to consult to move the deadline for benchmark administrators. Benchmark administrators have until December 2021 to train non-Senior Manager staff in the Conduct Rules.
The FCA is asking for comments on the consultation by 14 August 2020.