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SM&CR certification deadline – Walker Crips’ Sean Lam comments

Sean Lam, CEO of Walker Crips Group plc and founder of EnOC Technologies, comments on today’s (31 March) SM&CR certification deadline and the outlook for the regulation in the year ahead:

“The 31 March 2021 deadline for solo-regulated firms to undertake the first fitness and propriety assessment of their certified staff is upon us. Recognising the challenges posed by the pandemic, the FCA had already delayed it from its original deadline of 9 December 2020.

“Solo-regulated firms must certify that everyone who performs a certification function is fit and proper to perform it and consider their integrity, competence and financial soundness. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but the process requires assessment of each individual’s conduct, their particular function, requirements, qualifications, appropriate continual professional training, track record, disciplinary history, and relevant background checks. Adequate records of this assessment must be readily available for review by the authorities.

“This regime is intended to be continuous, not a one-off project. Certificates issued by the firms are valid for a period of twelve months, beginning with the day on which it is issued. Therefore, certification appraisals and reviews must be conducted at least annually.

“Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Regulated firms have the responsibility to certify, or in some cases not to certify, individuals based on their assessment of whether they are deemed fit and proper to undertake certificated activities. This responsibility normally rests with the CEO, who would have a team of skilled and experienced individuals with the delegated responsibility to assess, monitor, review, test and supervise certificated individuals.

“If this power to certify is used frivolously, individuals who should not be advising customers could cause significant harm to customers, to the firm and could bring disrepute to the industry. By wielding this power responsibly, authorised firms must also be able to make the very difficult decision to not certify individuals where they have not fulfilled the firm’s internal assessment of fitness and propriety.”

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