The FCA is seeing a wide range of harm across all sectors where firms have ARs. An appointed representative (AR) is a firm or person who carries on a regulated activity on behalf, and under the responsibility of, a firm authorised by the FCA (the principal). In appointing an AR, the principal assumes responsibility for the regulated activities the AR carries out.
This harm often occurs because principals don’t perform enough due diligence before appointing an AR, or from inadequate oversight and control after an AR has been appointed.
The FCA’s proposed changes to the regime aim to address the harm arising in this market while retaining the cost, competition and innovation benefits the AR model can provide. The proposals would improve principals’ oversight of ARs, and require principals to provide the FCA with more information on their ARs to allow the FCA to spot risks more quickly.
ARs to be better overseen by principals
The FCA will also expect ARs to be more effectively overseen by their principals. The FCA is seeking views, through a discussion chapter in the consultation, on the wider risk posed by some of the business models operated by principal firms, and whether setting limits on such arrangements may help to reduce potential harm.
Sheldon Mills, Executive Director for Consumers and Competition at the FCA, said: “The appointed representative model helps bring choices to consumers, but the level of harm we are currently seeing is too high. There are real risks of consumers being misled and mis-sold with little scope for recourse.
“We have already started work looking at high risk ARs and these proposals build on that work. We want to ensure that principals are properly overseeing their appointed representatives, ensuring they are competent, financially stable and delivering fair outcomes for consumers.”
Meanwhile, alarm bells ring across the insurance industry following the FCA new pricing reform update, which firms are expected to be fully compliant with by the end of 2021.