Financial Services Register (FS Register)
The FS Register provides a public record of firms regulated by the FCA and the individuals they and the Prudential Regulation Authority have approved. This currently includes information on a firm’s senior management, its control staff and customer facing roles. The FS Register will continue following the extension of the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR) but will no longer contain the details of those carrying out a customer function (Certified staff), i.e. advisers. This is because the SM&CR requires firms to assess and certify individuals who undertake a customer function, including individuals who provide financial advice or help with pension transfers as fit and proper.
Although the initial intention was simply to remove advisers from the Register, immediate and vociferous feedback from the industry, combined with fall out from the British Steel Pension Scheme situation resulted in a U-turn and the FCA decided they needed to have a public facing register that potential clients could check before deciding to engage an adviser.
So, the FCA is launching a new public register with a consumer friendly user interface. It is to be called ‘The Directory’ and has the aim of empowering customers and other stakeholders to make sure they only deal with those individuals approved as Senior Managers or those who an authorised firm has assessed as fit and proper, or otherwise suitable and have appropriate qualifications.
Directory Persons broadly fall into 3 categories of individuals:
- all Certified staff (those holding a certification function under the SM&CR)
- directors who are not performing Senior Management Functions (both executive and non-executive);
- other individuals who are sole traders or Appointed Representatives (ARs) where they are undertaking business with clients and require a qualification to do so.
For the first time, information on those individuals providing mortgage advice will also be made public.
Firms can start submitting information on their Directory Persons to the FCA about each individual who is or becomes a Directory person on or after 9 December 2019 and must submit all reports by 9 December 2020. This will need to be done online through the Connect system, accessible from the FCA website.
When will individual adviser information be removed from the FS Register?
If an individual falls under the certification regime and so no longer requires FCA approval (e.g CF30s) they will no longer show as “active” on the FS register from 09/12/19. From March 2020 onwards, the Directory will be live with data from Banking firms and Insurers but the solo information won’t go live until 9/12/20. Banking firms + insurers have from 09/09/19-09/03/20 to submit their directory persons data to us and Solo firms have from 09/12/19-09/12/20 to submit their information.
If there is a period during which individual adviser data is no longer available on the FS Register but not yet available on the Directory, how is it proposed that Pension Scheme Trustees will be able to fulfil their obligations to check that members have taken advice from an appropriate person in the event of safeguarded benefits being valued at more than £30,000?
Users can use the FS Register to access historical records during the period when CF30 roles cease to remain ‘active’ on the FS Register until these appear on the Directory. We will also be including a table on the FS Register that lists all the links to Accredited Bodies’ registers during this period. Users can find out further information on CF30s such as pension trustee advisors by accessing these registers. We still encourage users to contact the firm to verify information.
Will existing data on advisers be exported to the Directory?
Yes- the directory will show information we had on advisors from the FS register plus the new information that firms will provide us via the Directory forms. Firms need to complete the fields required for their Directory person forms and we will then match records with internally held records so that there is one completed record.
What will firms have to submit?
- only data on new certified staff not already on the firm’s Register entry?
- data for new staff plus additional data for existing advisers where the Directory requires information not currently recorded on the Register?
- all data for existing and new certified individuals?
Firms will need to review which staff fall under certification (and the remit of the Directory as per the PS) and then complete the Directory Persons forms on Connect. Banking Firms and Insurers need to review all staff falling under certification as at 10/12/18 and solo firms 09/12/19.