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FCA authorisations update

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The FCA earlier this month published an update on their operating service metrics for authorisation timelines. The FCA’s Authorisations Division is the first point of contact for firms and individuals wanting to carry out regulated activities or be registered by the FCA. The latest metrics provided by the regulator show they are meeting standards in some areas, whilst other areas are showing improvements compared to 2020/21.

Here are some key points outlined in the FCA’s update:

  • The FCA increased the capacity and capability – in the last financial year, the FCA recruited 95 additional permanent employees and appointed more financial analysts who have market expertise in key areas and are helping to train and mentor other staff. The benefits are already visible by reduction in pending caseload of around 47% since December 2021, and faster allocations to case officers. In accordance with the FCA’s Strategy Plan 2022-2025 the FCA plan to recruit at least 30 more case officers into Authorisations in this financial year.
  • At a more senior level the FCA are introducing two additional Heads of Department to their casework function to expand capacity and capability. This is in addition to the creation of a second Director role in May 2022.
  • FCA introduced ‘burndown plans’ across casework functions, with enhanced triage processes across the different portfolios to point this additional permanent and temporary resource to where it is needed most and to quickly identify incomplete applications, reducing the time it takes to allocate a case to a case officer and prioritising time critical cases.
  • FCA improved their oversight and monitoring of progress with stronger and more frequent management information to enables them to identify and address emerging challenges.
  • In November 2021 the FCA introduced a streamlined approach to Authorisations decision-making, allowing them to make faster, more decisive action to prevent those unwilling or unable to meet our standards from entering the market.
  • The FCA recognise some inefficiencies in their application experience such as receiving too many incomplete forms, which delays assessment by case officers, no good data validation or verification (ie automatic checking of the accuracy of data submitted by applicants), which affects quality of data received or language on the forms is too difficult to understand, which leads to many calls on how to complete an application.  The FCA are progressing their work on digitising the forms, including data enrichment and validation to improve the application experience. The FCA is aiming to remove any unnecessary or duplicative requests to ensure the information they ask for is relevant to each assessment.
  • The FCA’s programme to upgrade and improve the FCA’s case management systems is underway. Authorisations will transition to a newer version of the current system, which provides a better user experience, in 2023.
  • FCA are exploring how they can improve their engagement with industry about expectations at the gateway including improvements to the Authorisations section of the FCA website and broader industry engagement
  • Since December 2021 the FCA have reduced their caseload by around 47% and plan to be substantially meeting the statutory service metrics by the end of 2022/23

If you would like more information on FCA authorisation, contact us here.

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