FCA: ‘Our response times are not good enough’

FCA: ‘Our response times are not good enough’

The Financial Conduct Authority has admitted its response times are not good enough when it comes to change in control application processes.

At its annual public meeting in September, the regulator was asked about the significant delays around change in control applications where the average wait time for an acknowledgment and case officer assigned is about two to three months.

The individual asking the question said this was “stifling competition and growth of businesses”.

The questioned went unanswered at the time but this week (November 24) the FCA said: “We don’t think our response times are good enough and are committed to improving this."

The regulator said it has seen a continued increase in chance in control notices. 

“In the past 12-18 months we have seen heightened activity in the UK M&A market and a resulting continued increase in change in control notices, some of which are more complex in nature. Consequently, our response times have increased.

"However, we will, where possible, prioritise cases where delays have a commercial impact.”

It added: “In order to increase our capacity and to meet demand as quickly as possible, we continue to recruit and bring on additional resource. This will help us increase the pace with which we allocate and determine cases.”

The City watchdog also said it is making longer term operational improvements to its triaging of cases.

Where notices have omissions, the FCA said it must request further information, which will often create further delays. 

“In the meantime, we encourage notice-givers (and the target authorised firms, where appropriate) to make every effort to provide full and substantive information. Our website sets this out in more detail. 

“We also make every effort to keep notice-givers up to date, for example through the Track My Application function for notifications submitted via Connect. We will also, where possible, prioritise cases where delays have a commercial impact.”

In a policy statement published today (November 26), the FCA also made changes around its decision making processes as part of a streamlining effort at the regulator. 

The move means some of the decisions will now be taken by its senior managers rather than the Regulatory Decisions Committee, which will allow the regulator to make decisions “faster and more effectively”. 

These decisions include 

  • a firm’s authorisation or an individual’s approval 
  • action in straightforward cases to cancel a firm’s permissions and that action is contested
  • starting civil proceedings, such as seeking an injunction
  • starting criminal proceedings, such as a prosecution for insider dealing
  • using the FCA’s powers to vary or limit a firm’s permissions
  • using the FCA’s powers to impose requirements on a firm

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