No Time Like The Present
I believe there are two types of people in this world; one type book in next year’s MOT as soon as this year’s is passed, have never forgotten a loved one’s birthday or anniversary and have all their Christmas shopping done and dusted in the January sales. The other type are like you and me! And, whilst the old adage might tell us that to err is human and to forgive divine, it’s worth remembering that the FCA has never claimed divine status!
At the moment, the FCA’s main priority when it comes to consumer credit is getting the firms that need to be authorised through the application process as quickly as possible. With 50,000 firms needing to undergo that process –which will be unfamiliar, lengthy and complex in comparison to the previous licencing regime – it’s fair to estimate that this area of regulation in isolation is taking up much of the regulator’s attention.
However, I would urge you not to lose sight of the fact that both the scale and the level of detail of the FCA’s regulatory remit is much, much wider than that of the OFT. Of course gaining authorisation is not only critical to your ability to trade but also heralds the beginning of a long-term relationship with the regulator in which your systems and controls, the way in which you endeavour to treat clients fairly, how you vet and monitor your staff, the methods by which you capture and record information, to name but a few will be under scrutiny. You will be asked to provide this information to the regulator but, in turn, it will be paying much more attention to firms – both across the board and on an individual basis with direct supervision, reviews by telephone and onsite visits.
It would be the easy option – and therefore the one human nature is most likely to lead us towards – to take no action at all until the FCA enters this phase of more rigorous regulation. When you find out that you’re going to receive a visit, you can start to put your ducks in a row, right? Sorry, but choosing to do nothing about regulation would be a big mistake and could carry unfortunate consequences. The FCA will be reviewing your systems and processes from the point at which you fell under its control, and the expectation will be that you have been adhering to its rules from that point onwards. Not having done so will land you with potential fines and a suspension of permissions – thereby stopping you from conducting consumer credit business legally – at the lighter end of the scale of action you might face. If it feels you have wilfully ignored its guidance, you could well face criminal action.
Therefore, please don’t think that following FCA regulation is something that can be put off until it’s urgent. Whether or not you’ve been approached by the FCA or not, the need to adhere to the regulatory regime is already urgent, whether or not that appears to be the case.
Fortunately, AOBP’s Compliance Hub, powered by the Consumer Credit Centre, contains all the tools and guidance you will need to ensure that your business adheres to the FCA’s requirements from authorisation onwards. This is regularly updated in line with the FCA’s ongoing review, and it is imperative that you keep up to date with changing regulation.
If you have any questions on the information in this article, or any other area of regulation or compliance support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Consumer Credit Centre team on 01484 443 424