Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR)

Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR)

July 6, 2021

SMCR came into force for solo-regulated firms from 9 December 2019, and the transition period for certain requirements ended on 31 March 2021.

Explore our insights and what this might mean for your firm.

Background

Following the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent review of the financial services industry, parliament sought to replace the UK Approved Persons Regime (APER) with a regime that was more focused on firms’ senior managers and individual responsibility. This resulted in the creation of a new Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR).

The SMCR has been in force for banks, building societies, credit unions and PRA-designated investment firms (Relevant Authorised Persons) since March 2016 and was extended to cover all Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) solo-regulated financial services firms on 9 December 2019. It has replaced the APER entirely.

Overview

The SMCR’s overarching aim is to reduce harm to consumers and to strengthen market integrity. This is achieved by raising the standards of conduct for everyone who works in financial services, and by making senior people in firms more responsible and accountable for their conduct, actions and competence. The regime shifts the responsibility of activities within a firm onto senior managers and brings into scope non-executive directors.

How Has Covid-19 Impacted the Implementation of SMCR?

Recognising the impact Covid-19 has had on the operations of many firms, the FCA extended the deadline from 9 December 2020 to 31 March 2021 for firms to assess the fitness and propriety of their Certified Persons; to train staff on the Conduct Rules; and to report Directory Person data.

The aim of this delay was to give firms who are significantly affected by Covid-19 time to comply with SMCR requirements.

How Does the Regime Apply to Different Firms?

For solo-regulated firms, the FCA took a proportionate approach to implementation to reflect the different risks, impact and complexity of firms subject to the extension. Under the FCA’s regime, firms are categorised depending on their size and profile into Core, Enhanced or Limited Scope firms.

The SMCR consists of three key pillars:

  1. The Senior Managers Regime (SMR) – The most senior individuals (‘Senior Managers’) who perform key roles (‘Senior Management Functions’ or ‘SMF’)
  2. The Certification Regime (CR) – Employees who are not Senior Managers but whose job can cause significant harm to the firm or its customers
  3. The Conduct Rules – The New Conduct Rules apply to almost all employees within firms. The first tier (Individual Conduct Rules) is a general set of rules that applies to most employees (except ancillary staff).The second tier (Senior Manager Conduct Rules) applies to Senior Managers only.

The FCA’s New Directory

The FCA’s new Directory enables consumers, firms and other stakeholders to find information on individuals working in financial services. It provides access to information available through the Financial Services Register (The FS Register), as well as information about other individuals, including those performing roles no longer made public on The FS Register following the introduction of SMCR.

Linda Gibson, Director of Regulatory Change (July 2021)

SMCR is a UK initiative and something the FCA has said all along they want to get right. It is no doubt aware that around the world other regulators are watching their progress and will judge their success. In Ireland, the CBI is preparing to introduce the Senior Executive Accountability Regime (“SEAR”) which has some similarities to the FCA regime.

The overall aim of SMCR is to drive change in behaviours and put a spotlight on culture - both of which should ultimately improve trust in financial services. For these reasons, it is worthwhile taking time and getting it right.

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