• Gordon McMurray

Get your FCA application right first time

It’s great news for everyone in the world of compliance that the FCA has launched improvements to its Connect system (now in beta testing). At last. Anyone who’s ever tried to submit an application before now will have lost hours of his or her life – and possibly several clumps of hair – before finally managing to send it successfully.

So what are the improvements you can expect to see?

Well, first of all, there’s a new look and feel which the FCA believes will make the system more intuitive to use. Better still, the new functionality gives “greater visibility” of an application – which should mean you’ll find it more easily – and in theory it should be possible to track its progress. When you log into the system, you should be able to see helpful information depending on the type of application you’ve submitted.

I’m hopeful that, at the very least, the system will be more stable. No more thumb strumming while you wait for screens to unfreeze. No more randomly getting kicked out or locked out. No more turning the air blue when it loses the data you’ve just spent all day inputting!

If the improvements are all they’re cracked up to be, you may be wondering whether, rather than use a compliance consultant to help you get authorised or vary permissions, you’ll be able to do it yourself. After all, they make it sound so easy. The answer is… it depends.

I’ve secured many authorisations over the years. Some have been complex, some have been simple, some have taken as long as a year and others as little as six weeks. For complex or 'mission critical' applications, I’d always recommend using an expert. ​

There are really just three secrets to success for any application. First, your documentation must be as complete as possible and you must have your compliance manual and monitoring programme ready. Second, the whole pack needs to work as a coherent application (so it’s important to understand the technicalities and the implications of the component parts). Third, you must have ready the answers to the questions your FCA case officer will ask as your application progresses.

If you slip up on any of these, it significantly impacts on timescales, taking much longer than necessary and costing a great deal more in money and effort.

Tracking your application is one thing; getting it right is another altogether. So speak to a compliance specialist - such as ComplianceWizard - rather than risk letting what should be a six-week application process drag on for a year!