• Gordon McMurray

Are you sure you have the right permissions?

Way too many firms have permissions they don’t need. Does it matter? Well, possibly not, but it could be costing you time, money and effort in monitoring and returns – completely unnecessarily.

Maybe you didn’t have the right permissions to start with. This can happen if, say, you used a law firm rather than a regulatory specialist to do your application for you, as they may not have understood the nuances of your business. Or maybe your plans just changed.

Either way, it’s a good idea to get shot of any you don’t need. If you don’t, you might inadvertently stray into the FCA’s sights for thematic exercises and supervision visits for things you’re not actually doing. You might also take yourself into different fee groups, which means you could be paying needlessly high fees and levies.

Not having enough – or rather the right – permissions would of course be a much bigger issue. That’s why it’s so important to check regularly that what you’re doing is covered by your permissions. And to take account of the impact of rule changes. For example, remember to make sure, if you’re running collective investment schemes for professional clients, that they’ve not crept into the compensation regime as a result of changes made over the last couple of years. Elective professional clients may, in certain circumstances, be considered to be consumers and if so you should be contributing to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Financial Ombudsman Service.

So much for right now; what about your business’s plans for the future? Don’t forget to plan ahead, because the work involved in getting more permissions can be intensive. You need to allow plenty time as the FCA won’t work to your timescales – a simple authorisation or variation can take as little as six weeks; but a complex one could take up to a year even with an exemplary application. If the FCA is particularly busy, or your case is complicated or you don’t get the application pack quite right, your business plans will be hit.

And while we’re looking ahead, do keep an eye on Brexit to see how things develop. For example, if you’re an EU firm doing business in the UK, you’ll need to make sure you take advantage of the ‘temporary permissions regime’ because passporting will stop when we come out.

What it all boils down to is this: the secret to a good night’s sleep is simply to check your permissions. Often. Don’t waste resources on any you don’t need; don’t risk jail by not having ones you do need; don’t jeopardise your plans by not applying in time for ones you will need. And if you need help, just speak to ComplianceWizard.