Advisers warned there is 'no hiding place' from SMCR


Advisers have been warned there is "no hiding place" from the looming senior managers and certification regime once it comes into effect in three weeks' time.

Speaking on the FTAdviser Podcast, Michael Pashley, SimplyBiz's group training and knowledge manager, said advisers should remember that once the regime comes into effect on December 9 it will include ongoing obligations.

He said: "Firms do need to do things on an ongoing basis and this isn't something that can be done and then forgotten about. This is a completely new accountability regime and I think it would be fair to say there are constant reminders here.

"For example firms will need to report any disciplinary action taken for conduct rule breaches for non-senior managers on an annual basis via a new Gabriel report. Now for some firms this will mean they are going to need to jump onto Gabriel an extra time in the year.

"In addition to that firms will need to be certifying their staff but they will also need to assess as fit and proper their senior managers and their non-executive directors on an annual basis so I think it's fair to say there is no hiding place from this. It is not going to go away once it is in place. This is completely taking over the approved persons regime."

The regime has already been rolled out to banks and insurance companies and after December 9 it will apply to all 47,000 companies the Financial Conduct Authority regulates.

Under the SMCR, anyone who holds a senior management function will need to be approved by the FCA and every senior manager will need to fill out a statement of responsibilities explaining what they are responsible for.

The certification element, which will take effect on December 9, 2020, requires firms to certify that non-senior managers who can have a significant impact on customers are suitable to do their jobs on at least an annual basis.

Ian Cornwall, director of regulation at adviser trade body Pimfa, said many of the companies that have already complied with SMCR had underestimated this element of the regime.

He said: "All the feedback we have had is that the firms that are in it underestimated how much resource and time it took to do the certification regime so you need to look at timing.

"A lot of firms now do it on a 10-month cycle so that if they have someone that's not completed CPD - maybe they were ill or there's other issues that need to be ironed out before you can certify them - you've got a bit of a window.

"A lot of firms are looking to make sure they have a system in place that gives them some time to address any shortcomings before the actual deadline itself comes to fruition.

"Having a look at the timing, having a look at how you actually evidence the fact you are certifying someone. All those are things you can start thinking about now."