The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has given companies regulated by a single watchdog a four-month reprieve to comply with the Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SMCR) due to the disruption caused by Covid-19.
Originally, solo-regulated firms were to have undergone the first fitness and propriety assessment of their certified persons later this year.
In a statement on its website the regulator said the Treasury had agreed to postpone the process from 9 December 2020 until 31 March 2021 to ‘give firms significantly affected by the coronavirus.”
Although the extension is in place, the regulator is urging firms to certify their staff as soon as they can and not wait until the extended deadline.
The FCA said it will still publish the details of certified employees from said date on the Financial Services Register, however, adding that firm ‘should not wait to remove staff who are not fit and proper from certified roles’.
It added: ‘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. We will produce further communications about our expectations.’
Market participants are in agreement with the FCA that the delay does not mean firms should be complacent. They advise firms and their staff and management to abide with the new rules because they will be held accountable during the transition period.
The SMCR, which was introduced to banks in 2016, was not rolled out to the wider financial services industry until last December in the hope it would strengthen market integrity by making individuals more responsible for their actions.
Under the latest regime, senior individuals performing key roles will need FCA approval before starting work and they will receive a ‘statement of responsibilities’ that clearly says what they are responsible and accountable for.