Financial Services Trends to Watch – Q4 2019 – The FCA power shift

Financial Services Trends to Watch – Q4 2019 – The FCA power shift


As part of our sector-focused series, we have spoken with our in-house PSLs to outline the key legal trends to watch in Financial Services as 2019 draws to a close.

This article focuses on recent changes in the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) regulations around the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR).  Additionally, the ramifications on FCA power of the August 2019 House of Commons Treasury Committee report: “The work of the Financial Conduct Authority: the perimeter of regulation”.


Extension of the SM&CR to solo-regulated firms


On 9 December 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is extending the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR) to solo-regulated firms.

From this date, the SM&CR will apply to almost all firm authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and to branches of non-UK firms with permission to carry out regulated activities in the UK.

The FCA created the SM&CR to expand the scope of individual liability, focusing on senior management responsibility and creating a firm-wide ‘culture of accountability’ in order to reduce consumer harm and strengthen market integrity. 

The SM&CR marks a fundamental shift in the FCA’s regulatory approach to individuals and compliance with the SM&CR is a top supervisory and enforcement priority for the FCA.

Most solo-regulated firms’ SM&CR preparations should be well underway. By day one of the extension, all firms are required to have identified those employees who meet the definition of one or more Certification Functions and trained their Senior managers and Certification staff in the Conduct Rules.

Among other requirements, firms will have 12 months in which to train their remaining staff in the Conduct Rules and certify their Certification staff as ‘fit and proper’. 

For all SM&CR firms it is critical to embed a culture of individual engagement and accountability at all levels. Increasingly, the FCA, and indeed other international bodies like the Financial Stability Board, consider that the process of cultural change, of assessing and managing culture, and corresponding governance should be a top priority for financial services firms.


Further reading:


Comprehensive coverage on the extension of the SM&CR and the regulator’s expectations on developing a cu

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Amy leads the content marketing strategy for LexisNexis UK, writing thought leadership and product content for marketing campaigns, insight reports and legal industry magazines. She is an established writer and researcher, having contributed in national publications, such as City A.M. and Financial IT. She is also one of the writers and digital editors of LexisNexis' insights blogs, the Future of Law and the In-house blog.