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UK regulator extends SMCR deadline

But watchdog warns firms not to wait until the last minute


Companies regulated by a single watchdog have been given a four-month reprieve by the Financial Conduct Authority to comply with the Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SMCR). 

Originally, solo-regulated firms needed to have undergone the first fitness and propriety assessment of their certified persons by 9 December 2020. 

But, because of the difficulties brought by the outbreak of coronavirus, the FCA has granted them until 31 March 2021 to complete the task. 

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 31 March deadline. 

Extension was needed 

Tim Sargisson, chief executive at Sandringham Financial Partners, told International Adviser: “It’s encouraging that the FCA are sympathetic to the challenges faced by firms during this pandemic.

“Clearly the uncertainty as to when we will be through this has influenced their thinking and the need to extend by four months. 

“For our part, we have continued through the pandemic very much as before and fully expect to have completed all our SMCR requirements by 9 December 2020, including the certification of 180 financial planners.  

“A significant amount of SMCR planning was undertaken by Sandringham prior to the 9 December 2019. In addition, our processes allow us to operate remotely.  

“Both factors help explain why covid-19 hasn’t impacted on our SMCR roll-out, certainly compared to firms still largely paper driven and interacting face-to-face.

“I suspect that for this cohort of firms the extension to the 31 March will be especially welcome.” 

Don’t wait around

But Mark Turner, managing director at Duff & Phelps’ compliance and regulatory consulting division, warned that this doesn’t mean solo-regulated firms should postpone their compliance with the regime. 

“The FCA has responded to the current situation by giving firms more time to implement SMCR,” he said.  

What this is not, however, is an invitation for firms and their staff and management, to act in a way that is not compliant with the conduct rules. Senior managers are already accountable under SMCR and will remain so during this transition period.  

Any significant issues will find their way up to a senior manager when it comes to regulatory accountability, Turner added. 


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