SMCR rules 'straightforward' for most advisers

SMCR rules 'straightforward' for most advisers

Adviser compliance firm SimplyBiz will add to its support services in preparation for the Senior Managers and Certification Regime later this year but has made assurances for most firms the new rules will be "relatively straightforward".

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 FCA 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 FCA hopes the regime will help establish healthy cultures and effective governance in companies by encouraging greater individual accountability and establishing a new standard of personal conduct.

Neil Stevens, joint chief executive at SimplyBiz, said the business would be adding extra features to its service in preparation for the new regulation, alongside an expansion of its compliance teams, but urged the requirements were already practiced by a lot of advice firms. 

He said: "We think our job is to help people understand regulation and in doing that not make it bigger than it needs to be. So the SMCR is relatively straightforward for most firms.

"The very principles of accountability and customer care and their focus on doing a good thing and being accountable for it, that really is the essence of these firms that are directly authorised.

"So, we will be adding some extra technology functions to our back office, we will be adding some extra functions to our training and competency platform but really we'll be making SMCR simple to deal with for firms rather than trying to make more of it than it is in reality." 

In its half year results published on Tuesday (September 10) the company said it had invested in expanding its compliance and policy teams during H2 2018 and H1 2019 as a means to supporting members through the impending SMCR. 

SimplyBiz said the increasing burden of regulation in the advice market was a "tailwind" for its business, claiming new regulation created "opportunities" for the group to provide support to its members through additional paid-for service offerings.

It announced income from additional services had increased by 9 per cent to £2.4m in the first half of this year, up from £2.2m in the first six months of 2018.

Matt Timmins, joint chief executive at SimplyBiz, said: "We find the one thing that never stays still in our industry is regulation and every time regulation increases or changes or extra pressures are put on intermediaries we find an increase in demand from people looking to outsource to firms like ourselves."

Revenues at the company grew by 20 per cent to £29.1m, as revenues in its intermediary services division, which currently provides support to 3,704 financial advisers, mortgage advisers and consumer credit brokers, also grew. 

Membership fee income in the company's organic business grew by 12.9 per cent to £5.1m in the first half of this year, compared with the same six months in 2018.