The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) revealed its ‘near final’ rules on the extension of the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) to almost all regulated firms, including brokers and insurers, earlier this month.
The rules have provided some “much needed clarification,” but firms shouldn’t expect the regulator to go easy on them post-implementation, according to Peter Wright, lead litigation partner at law firm Fox Williams.
“The bit I was slightly surprised by in the ‘near final rules’ is actually how long the firms have been given by the FCA…They’ve got a long lead in time there,” Wright told Insurance Business. “Is there going to be much regulatory forbearance for those that struggle with it? I’d be surprised by that,” he said.
While some firms will naturally require more support than others in preparing for the regulation, the FCA is likely to take a uniform approach to those that fail to meet standards, according to Wright.
“I would expect the FCA’s view will be – we have given everybody enough warning of what’s coming down the track, they’ve had a chance to be consulted on it, we’ve given these rules and they have had a fairly generous implementation date,” he said.
For smaller firms, such as some brokers, having fewer resources won’t necessarily put them at a disadvantage when it comes to preparing for the SMCR.
“For the majority of firms, it ought not to be too taxing,” Wright said. “Actually, the smaller you are as a business, the easier it is to map and to do your statements of responsibility. I do have some sympathy around the difficulties it might cause on the HR side, and you have some policy work to do there. But I certainly don’t think its unmanageable, and I certainly think the time given is more than ample.”
Those businesses that will struggle are the ones who leave planning until the last few months, when it will “all become rather difficult.” Last minute preparation could also end up costlier as it may require professional help to be brought in.
“If I was giving a message to anyone in the industry, it would be just get your project plan and your team together sooner rather than later, then it ought to be well-martialled,” Wright said.
This article first appeared in Insurance Business Magazine, published 19 July 2018.