Knock knock! FCA will visit WFH wealth managers

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Is that my Sainsbury’s order, or the FCA?

Wealth managers and advisers may find themselves asking this question after the FCA yesterday announced its intention to pay firms’ remote workers a visit if required. 

The watchdog said it may need to access firms’ remote working sites to ensure they continue to comply with regulatory responsibilities.

‘We should be able to access firms’ sites, records and employees’, the FCA said.

‘It is important that firms are prepared and take responsibility to ensure employees understand that the FCA has powers to visit any location where work is performed, business is carried out and employees are based (including residential addresses) for any regulatory purposes.

‘This includes supervisory and enforcement visits.’

Firms are expected to notify the FCA if their principal business address has changed to a residential one. The watchdog expressed concern that the accuracy of the Financial Services Register would suffer should addresses be misrepresented and consumers may struggle to contact firms.

Firms incorporating hybrid or remote working must reconsider how they operate their business, which the FCA will review on a case-by-case basis.

They should consider whether remote working is likely to bar the FCA access to information about the firm, increase the risk of financial crime or cause detriment to consumers, the watchdog said.  

Additionally, firms intending to operate with hybrid or remote work in the long-term must have plans in place to evidence these working conditions will not negatively impact the business. 

This includes being able to evidence that cyber and security risks, good governance and workplace culture will not be jeopardised.

Implications of remote working must now be considered as part of the application process for firms seeking authorisation or registered status, the FCA said. 

It requires information about ‘the arrangements your firm will have for remote working’; ‘that you’ve considered the legal implications for your business of this type of arrangement’; and ‘the location of senior managers and their plans to oversee the firm’s activities’. 

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