FCA updates approach to international firms

The FCA has published an updated version of its approach to international firms. Its guidance applies equally to firms applying for authorisation and those that are already authorised. It does not cover payment and e-money firms, UCITS or AIF managers or international benchmark administrators.

The document confirms that:

  • the FCA expects firms applying for authorisation to be ready, willing and organise and to meet relevant minimum standards (meeting the threshold conditions). It will apply the same standards as for UK firms, so international firms will need to consider their UK operations, their personnel and decision making structures and their systems and controls;
  • the UK regulators are used to dealing with branches of overseas firms, but generally note the risks are higher from branches than from UK incorporated subsidiaries. Additionally, jurisdictional problems may arise more often for branches;
  • international firms should consider the risks of both retail and wholesale customer harm as well as client asset protection, and the FCA will consider all these against the home state framework; and
  • when taking a decision on authorisation, it is possible for an overseas firm to be authorised with limitations, but if the FCA does not consider it can supervise a firm properly, it will not authorise it.

When an international firm becomes authorised, the authorisation will cover all its services.

Emma Radmore