Advisers 'not ready for SMCR' with just six days to go

Advisers 'not ready for SMCR' with just six days to go
Jacqueline Lockie, head of financial planning at the CISI

The head of financial planning at the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment has warned advisers are not prepared for the latest piece of market-wide regulation due for implementation next week. 

The Senior Managers and Certification Regime is currently in place across the banking and insurance sector but will be rolled out to advisers regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority from December 9. 

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

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Concerns have previously been raised advisers may be underestimating their requirements under the new rules, but with just six days until the deadline Jacqueline Lockie, head of financial planning at the CISI, told FTAdviser the industry is still not prepared. 

She said: "Advisers are still underestimating the logistical issues in training staff under the new rules, the training must be individual for different groups of staff. It needs to be very specific and there are so many nuances."

Ms Lockie said advisers would likely still be trying to satisfy the requirements well past next week's deadline. 

The financial planning head also warned the FCA would be looking to actively enforce requirements under the new regime. 

She added: "There will be a real emphasis on monitoring the responsibility on firms to ensure staff are appropriately trained.

"This will definitely put more of a burden on firms in terms of both cost and time. 

"The headline cost will increase for the entire business irrespective of how many clients it has or how many assets it manages."  

Ms Lockie drew comparison to the impact of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, which earlier this year she warned had added an estimated 20 minutes of administrative time to each client meeting. 

In September the FCA published the findings of its review into how well the rules under the SMCR had been embraced in the banking sector, finding some companies were not always sufficiently tailoring their conduct rule training to suit job roles within the business. 

The regulator said many firms were still unable to explain what a conduct breach looked like in the context of their business and as a result announced it would be upping its supervision of how companies are embedding conduct rules and meeting their responsibilities under the SMCR. 

Speaking at a conference in the summer Cathi Harrison, director and founder of paraplanning support services provider Para-Sols, said firms should have ideally begun implementing a plan under the new regime in March. 

Ms Harrison said firms have to decide who is running the preparations and determine which training is needed throughout the firm.

On top of this, the onus of checking the fitness and propriety of staff now falls on the firms themselves, rather than the FCA.

This means firms will need to gather regulatory references and carry out a fitness and propriety assessment when hiring any staff member, as well as checking criminal records and gain regulatory approval for senior managers.