We can project manage your FCA or PRA application including provision of all key elements of the compliance infrastructure. Over the years, our partners have dealt with many applications for authorisation (both simple and complex), always with success. Our job is to ensure the process is as smooth and efficient as possible. We will give upfront guidance on timescales, process and our respective responsibilities during the process. We will prepare the application forms and collate the supporting material to ensure you submit a complete application at the first attempt.
One of the more complex areas of regulation tends to be the application of the regulator’s prudential rules. We are happy to review your compliance with these detailed financial rules. In instances of complex and wide-ranging regulatory change, such as Basel III and Solvency II, the effects on the prudential compliance will often require detailed financial modelling as well as scenario planning to test the understanding of the rules against your business model. Having a partner who is a Fellow of the ICAEW gives us considerable strength in this area to advise our clients with confidence. The increased emphasis of the regulatory bodies on “micro-prudential” issues is a threat to many firms.
Compliance health checks & gap analyses
Ensuring your firm meets and exceeds the requirements set out by the FCA and PRA rules is paramount. We will visit and review your actual (and, where changes are being introduced, proposed) operational and compliance processes to determine whether they meet both the requirements and best industry practice. We will provide written feedback with clear recommendations of any remediation work required to make necessary improvements. Our compliance health checks are normally offered at a fixed price for simplicity.
S166 support and guidance
When the FCA or PRA exercise their powers under s166 of FSMA, they require the appointment of an external investigator to examine parts of your business. This investigator must be drawn from the FCA/PRA official list of s166 providers since they are reporting to the regulators. We assist firms who are defending such investigations. Our staff have conducted many s166 investigations but as a firm we choose not to be an official s166 provider, preferring instead to sit fully on the side of your firm in defending any such investigations against you. Dealing with a s166 investigation can be a very stressful situation, so having a business partner to provide comprehensive assistance in such defences is of crucial importance.
We will review and analyse the governance, risk and compliance standards employed within your firm’s infrastructure. This modular approach, tailored to the specific nature of your firm and the regulatory permissions held, covers board effectiveness, the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR), approved persons etc. as well as offering an opinion on the risk and compliance arrangements that you have in place. We can also create bespoke compliance risk assessments to articulate where your key regulatory risks arise and the steps and actions you need take to mitigate such risks.
Over recent years we have witnessed a significant increase in the focus and attention the FCA places on how firms manage client assets. The recent changes to the regime, and in particular the additional burdens placed on a firm’s external auditors, via the enhanced FRC standards, means that firms must ensure they maintain properly documented policies, procedures, processes and controls to manage and mitigate client asset risks. More recently we have seen an increased effort by the FCA on those firms who outsource client asset management to third party administrators. It is abundantly clear that the FCA expects any outsourced arrangements to be properly managed and overseen. One of our partners has acted as a client assets skilled person and has led s166 reviews. We can assist you in all aspects of meeting regulatory obligations including governance arrangements, policies and procedures through to the operational aspects of meeting regulatory requirements.
Interim compliance support
From time to time you may need to augment your team with extra resources. Whether to cover for illness, staff shortages or the extra demands caused by new initiatives, we can offer an interim solution, either full-time or part-time, to suit your needs. Any assistance of this nature will be from someone with the correct experience and approach for your firm.
Conduct of business: Suitability of advice
Significant regulatory attention is paid to the advisory standards employed by firms and the related suitability of advice. This advice process alongside record keeping is crucial to writing compliant business and minimising the risk of claims, or regulatory sanction, against the firm in future years. We will review these elements of your business and advise on any deficiencies from a regulatory and / or best practice perspective, and suggest practical solutions to get you to where you need to be.
For firms who are growing and have identified target acquisitions, we will investigate them and report back on their GRC standards. Our work will be focussed on the risk of acquisition and the impact of the GRC standards employed. Any fee for such work will often be entirely recouped from the value this can add to the contract negotiation and from our advice on the merits of different deal structures to ensure any historic liability is not unknowingly taken on by the purchaser. We can also assist with the change in control application in order to smooth the acquisition process. For vendors, we can assist in negotiations to maximise the value achieved from the business, and by remediating any deficiencies the purchaser may have found as part of their due diligence exercise.
Our partners have extensive experience of designing, developing and delivering regulatory training across a broad range of topics and sectors. We can provide bespoke one to one training for senior management, under the SMCR and approved persons regime. We have prepared many individuals for regulatory approval, including undertaking mock interviews and drafting individual development plans. We can also provide bespoke, classroom-led training to assist you to enhance your firm’s knowledge on key regulatory requirements.
Anti-Money Laundering & Financial Crime frameworks
AML & Financial Crime matters remain a priority for regulators and firms alike. Nowadays, more than ever, it is critical that you can successfully identify your clients and maintain the tools and processes to understand and monitor their activity. We have extensive experience in this area and can provide a broad range of support. We can assess the effectiveness and appropriateness of your firm’s AML & Financial Crime arrangements against regulatory and industry best practice standards. We can bring your policies, procedures and processes up to date to meet regulatory expectations and help you implement change. Criminals are finding more sophisticated ways of concealing proceeds of financial crime, we can therefore assist you with sourcing systemic solutions appropriate to the scale and nature of your business. Having a partner who previously led s166 reviews on AML & Financial Crime gives us unique insight toward navigating your way through a regulatory investigation, or indeed assisting you resolve issues identified because of a s166, or regulatory intervention.