FCA formalises relaxation of 12-week rule

On 6 May 2020, the FCA published a SM&CR-related modification by consent on its website, the purpose of which is to alleviate the burden on firms which may be affected by temporary Senior Manager absences due to the Covid-19 pandemic, for example, due to sickness or if the recruitment of an individual to replace a Senior Manager is delayed. 

The modification by consent does two things:

  1. Firstly, it amends SUP 10C.3.13R.  The effect of this is to extend the period in which an individual can cover for a Senior Manager without being approved by the FCA from a maximum of 12 weeks in a consecutive 12-month period to a maximum of 36 weeks in a consecutive 12-month period.
  2. Secondly, it amends SYSC 24.2.1.  The effect of this is to allow firms to allocate an absent Senior Manager’s Prescribed Responsibilities to the individual covering the role.

If you wish to take advantage of this relief, you should submit an application via the FCA’s “Connect” system.  It won’t be necessary to submit Form A (application for approval as a Senior Manager), Form J (notification of change in responsibilities of a Senior Manager) or updated Statements of Responsibilities to the FCA if the changes are temporary and directly related to the pandemic.  However, don’t forget your ongoing internal record-keeping responsibilities.  The FCA still expects all firms to keep a “running commentary” of any temporary allocation of Senior Management Functions and Prescribed Responsibilities.  This includes keeping Statements of Responsibilities, role profiles and Responsibilities Maps (where applicable) up-to-date in case the FCA wants to see them.  So, whilst the FCA is happy to be accommodating, this isn’t at the expense of the internal audit trail.

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