16 FAQs Answered About the SMCR Extension to Insurers
Now that the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR) has been extended, how will it affect insurers? We have the answers to 16 frequently asked questions.
Here, we answer the most frequently asked questions about the extension of SM&CR to Insurers.
SMCR FAQs for Insurers
1. When is the SM&CR effective for insurers?
The extension of the SM&CR to insurers will begin on 10th December 2018 for dual-regulated insurers and on 9th December 2019 for solo-regulated firms.
2. Do the same requirements apply to all insurers?
The full SM&CR will apply only to Solvency II insurers, and insurers outside the scope of Solvency II with assets of at least £25 million (known as “large non-directive firms”).
A more “streamlined” SM&CR regime will apply to Solvency II firms and large Non-Directive Firms ("NDFs") and a streamlined regime will apply to small NDF's, small runoff vehicles and Insurance Special Purpose Vehicles ("ISPVs").
3. What are the biggest changes for insurers?
The new certification regime, the extension of conduct rules to all staff except for ancillary and the new duty of responsibility.
4. To what activities do the Individual Conduct Rules and Senior Manager Conduct Rules apply?
The conduct rules apply to an individual’s activities in relation to the firm’s regulated and unregulated financial services activities (including any activities carried on in connection with a regulated activity).
5. Which staff will fall under the Certification Regime?
The Certification Regime will apply to people whose jobs mean they can have a significant impact on customers, the firm or market integrity. The regime will also apply to anyone who supervises or manages a Certified Function that isn’t a Senior Manager.
FSMA defines a Certification Function as one that "requires the person performing it to be involved in one or more aspects of the firm’s affairs, so far as relating to a regulated activity, and those aspects involve, or might involve, a risk of significant harm to the firm or any of its customers." (s63E(5) of FSMA). The FCA and PRA has defined a series of 'certification functions'. The Certification Regime only applies to employees of firms, it doesn’t apply to Non-Executive Directors.
6. How does the Certification Regime differ from the Approved Persons Regime and Senior Insurance Managers Regime?
Firms must assess each year whether any person that is to carry out a certification function is fit and proper to perform their role, and issue a certificate to them if they are. Some of the staff in the scope of the Certification Regime may previously have been subject to regulator approval. This will no longer be required under the Certification Regime. This reinforces that firms, rather than the regulator, are responsible for ensuring their staff are fit and proper.
7. What is the Duty of Responsibility?
The Duty of Responsibility specifies that the FCA and/or PRA can take action against a Senior Manager where they can show that:
- there was misconduct by the Senior Manager’s firm
- at the time of the misconduct or during any part of it, the Senior Manager was responsible for the management of any of the firm’s activities in relation to which the misconduct occurred
- the Senior Manager did not take such steps as a person in their position could reasonably have been expected to take to avoid the misconduct occurring or continuing
The burden of proof for all these elements lies on the regulators. The Senior Manager does not need to show that they took reasonable steps, it is for the regulator(s) to prove that they did not.
8. Can an individual be both a senior manager and a certified person?
Yes, if a Senior Manager performs a role that is subject to the certification regime, and that role is not related to their Senior Management Function, then they will also need to be certified. For example, if a Senior Manager meets the definition of the client dealing function (broadly equivalent to the current CF30 role), they must be certified for that function. However, the FCA doesn’t think that there will be many such cases amongst insurers.
9. What is the Statement of Responsibilities?
The Statement of Responsibilities (SoR) is a single document that every Senior Manager must have which clearly sets out their role and responsibilities. It is the same in substance as a Scope of Responsibilities document, which some insurers were required to submit under the revised APR and PRA’s SIMR. Insurers are required to submit SoRs with an application for approval of a new Senior Manager and must keep these up to date and re-submit them whenever there is a significant change in responsibilities.
10. Do firms need to appoint someone to each Senior Management Function?
The SM&CR provides a more granular list of Senior Management Functions (SMFs) than the current list of controlled functions. If a person is to carry out a role that is designated as an SMF they must be approved as such. Otherwise there is no general requirement to appoint individuals to hold SMFs.
11. Can a Senior Manager hold more than one SMF?
Yes, it is possible to hold more than one SMF. For example, an SMF3 – Executive Director may also hold the SMF17 – Money Laundering Reporting Officer function. Where this is the case, the individual will need approval from the regulator for each function. The Senior Manager will only need one SoR, but this must clearly describe all their responsibilities.
12. What is the new handover procedures requirement?
This requirement only applies to Solvency II firms and large NDFs. Such firms must take all reasonable steps to make sure that a person taking on a Senior Manager role has all the information and materials they could reasonably expect to have to do their job effectively. One way of doing this could be for the predecessor to prepare a suitable handover note. Insurers must have a policy to explain how they comply with this requirement and maintain adequate records of the steps they have taken.
13. What is the 12-week rule?
The Senior Managers Regime allows someone to cover for a Senior Manager without being approved where the absence is temporary or reasonably unforeseen, where the appointment is for less than 12 consecutive weeks.
14. The regime applies on a legal entity basis, what does this mean to firms?
Firms with complex group structures will need to consider the impact of SM&CR on senior management within each legal entity, as well as the impact on any individuals within the wider group who exert significant influence over the management and conduct of UK‑regulated activities within the relevant legal entity. For groups with several legal entities, the SM&CR could apply in a differing way to each entity.
15. Are there any training requirements?
Yes, firms must make individuals who are subject to the Conduct Rules aware that this is the case, and take all reasonable steps to ensure that they understand how the rules apply to them and their role.
16. Are there any transition arrangements?
The FCA has confirmed the following transitional provisions to help firms move to the new regime:
Firms have to identify their Certification Staff and ensure they meet the Conduct Rules by 10th December 2018. However, they have 12 months to complete assessments and complete the certification process. The PRA match this requirement.
Firms will have 12 months to train their staff who are not Senior Managers or Certified Staff on the Conduct Rules.
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