FCA has updated on SMCR implementation periods in the times of Covid-19. It has extended the deadline for solo-regulated firms to have undertaking the first assessment of fitness and propriety of Certified Persons to 31 March 2021. This will have the knock on effect of extending the deadline for the Conduct Rules coming into force and submissions to the Directory to be made to the same date. FCA intends to consult, alongside Treasury, on the process to confirm these arrangements in law and in its rules. It also notes that if firms can certify staff before March 2021 they should do so, and should not wait to remove staff who are not fit and proper from certified roles. In the meantime, it will still publish details of certified employees on the Register (according to the release – we wonder if it means the Directory), starting from December 2020, and asks firms to provide information sooner than March if they can.
FCA has set out its expectations on how those still using the approved persons regime (that is, benchmark administrators and those using Appointed Representatives) should apply the regime during Covid-19. Similar to its previous statements in relation to the SMCR, it is issuing a modification by consent to the 12-week rule for emergency cover, to extend this period to 36 weeks, but this will not apply for the CF30 role. FCA has also noted that if firms furlough approved persons who are for any reason unable to fulfil their responsibilities, their approval will still be valid when they return to work. FCA does not expect to be notified of any arrangements made under its guidance, but does of course expect firms to keep records, and a “running commentary” of personnel performing significant influence functions. Principals of appointed representative firms must of course continue to comply with their regulatory obligations in respect of oversight of their representatives.