Financial Conduct Authority  

FCA sends advisers revamped Covid surveys

FCA sends advisers revamped Covid surveys
REUTERS/Toby Melville

The Financial Conduct Authority has sent advisers another survey but this time has dropped reference to "Covid-19" in the survey title and “simplified” the format to make it easier to complete.

Advisers have historically bemoaned such surveys, arguing the exercise is simply a box ticking exercise with “no real benefit”.

Today (March 30), the regulator emailed advisers the newly named ‘Financial Resilience Survey’, formerly known as the ‘Covid-19 Impact Survey’.

This is the seventh iteration of the survey, and must be completed in addition to the seventh survey the regulator sent advisers in January

“You will note the title of this data collection has been updated to more accurately reflect its purpose of giving us baseline financial resilience information for our firms,” the regulator said in the email.

“We have also taken the opportunity to simplify the format of the survey form to make for easier completion so it may look a little different.”

FTAdviser understands the regulator changed the layout of the form in response to feedback from firms.

While the design of the survey has changed, the FCA said the information it is asking of advice firms remains the same.

Companies will receive the survey between June 13-17, and must submit their responses within 15 working days of receipt of the survey.

The FCA also confirmed it expects to repeat the newly named survey in the future too.

Adviser at Solomon's Financial Planning, Dominic Thomas, told FTAdviser having "effectively another survey", on top of RMAR returns twice a year, to provide information about profitability and costs for the last quarter "seems a bit pointless".

He said: "If the world markets halved in value, I imagine that most firms would have a serious dent to revenue and some would probably struggle.

"Is this really about the viability of firms or their ability to continue to pay regulatory fees, based on turnover? In any event, its all short-term thinking."

Thomas said the FCA  should target firms which rely heavily on new business, new clients or a specific type of business that may be jeopardised, such as equity release.

"Asking for a basic three month cashflow from an established firm with enough clients is to miss where risk resides."

In the past, a spokesperson for the FCA said the data is important in helping it understand the impact Covid-19 had on firms it regulates, allowing it to identify emerging risks of harm to consumers, the market and competition, and prioritise supervisory interventions.

It is understood that while the surveys are mandatory, not every question will need to be completed so firms should fill the survey in as best as they can.

In its email, the FCA also said there is “a small number” of firms exempt from the survey, for reasons such as where firms have provided related information to the regulator as part of another data collection exercise.