FCA provides Covid-19 relief in relation to professional qualifications

The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 requires that all members of staff who are subject either to the Senior Managers Regime or the Certification Regime must be assessed as being fit and proper to perform their role.  Having necessary qualifications is one of the key criteria used to assess fitness and propriety.  Unfortunately, due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, many accredited bodies and other professional qualification providers are cancelling exams with no specific arrangements in place to reschedule.

In recognition of the difficulties caused by the current situation, the FCA has updated the “Professional qualification exams” section of its Covid-19 information webpage to provide firms with a degree of relief.

Normally, TC 2.2A.1R requires that firms must ensure that an employee carrying out any activity listed in Appendix 1 of TC must acquire an appropriate qualification “within 48 months of starting to carry on that activity”.  Whilst the FCA stresses that it still requires “firms to ensure that all employees have the skills, knowledge and expertise needed to discharge their responsibilities”, it confirms that it will not take enforcement action where it has not been possible to obtain an appropriate qualification due to the cancellation or postponement of examinations.  Instead, until 31 October 2020, it will treat the ’48 month’ requirement as a requirement to acquire appropriate qualifications “within 48 months or, where necessary, as soon as reasonably practicable afterwards, up to a further 12 months”.  In effect, affected employees will have an additional 12 months in which to complete any necessary qualifications.

As is so often the case, record-keeping is key and firms which wish to take advantage of this relief will need to assess whether an extension should be granted to a particular employee, and record the reasons for doing this.  If this aspect of compliance presents a challenge to your firm, drop us a line.  We’ll be happy to explain how Corterum may be able to help.