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FCA’s capital adequacy delay leaves Sipp firms in ‘limbo’

The director of technical services at Dentons welcomed the regulator’s decision to hold off revealing how much providers should hold in reserve, but said the pause made it “very difficult” for firms to plan ahead.

He said: “Firms do not know what proportion of retained profits they should put towards capital adequacy. It leaves a number of questions hanging in the air.

“How much can you reinvest in growth programmes? Advances in technology? New developments in online applications? There is a danger that any prolonged delay in these proposals would hamper growth plans.”

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Mr Tilley had previously indicated that Dentons would make “a strong case” against FSA proposals to toughen up capital requirements for Sipp providers that invest in commercial property. An FCA spokesman said the proposals were likely to be published some time next year, but could not give a specific date.

Background:

The proposals are a key outcome of the FCA’s thematic review into the industry, designed to protect consumers in case a provider fails. A policy statement on the matter was delayed following the results of a consultation that began in November 2012.

Former regulator the FSA proposed, in its CP12/33 consultation paper, to raise the minimum capital level for providers from £5,000 to £20,000.

It also wanted to apply a capital surcharge for non-standard assets to reflect the cost and time of winding down a Sipp book containing such assets.

Adviser view

Steven Robinson, managing director of Bristol-based Clarke Robinson & Co, said: “If the FCA is having a more in-depth look at this area, then that can only be a good thing. It looks like the industry is finally getting to grips with fringe operators being sued for promoting high-risk investments, such as Caribbean properties.”