As part of the same letter to the mortgage intermediary portfolio, the FCA has reminded all directly authorised firms that they have until 31 March 2021 to ensure all staff in certified roles are fit and proper to perform those roles. There should be a Senior Manager who has individual responsibility for ensuring the firm carries out proper assessments of certified staff, and those who do not meet fit and proper standards cannot be certified. Just because the individual had been approved by the FCA or indeed the FSA at some point in the past they should not be automatically certified. Where firms need to do a significant number of certification assessments, firms whose assessment processes do not result in some individuals being found not to meet these standards will be challenged.
Certification connects to almost every stage of the people management process, including recruitment, performance management, training and development, exit and disciplinary processes, on an ongoing basis. Firms that do not integrate certification into these processes are unlikely to be able to operate certification effectively. In all firms, Senior Managers and certified staff should already have been trained on the Conduct Rules and the firm also has until 31 March 2021 to train its other staff. This training must ensure that staff understand how the Conduct Rules apply to them individually.
The FCA will challenge the adequacy of training programmes which consist only of simple e-learning packages or presentations. Where they find failings in implementing the SM&CR, they will hold Senior Managers with relevant responsibilities to account.
Chief Executive, AMI