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FCA hits back at criticism over lack of fee flexibility

The FCA has defended its position on annual authorisation fees as well as its communication with advice firms over payment deadlines.

Speaking to Money Marketing, an FCA spokeswoman says firm owners are made well-aware of deadlines.

It was pointed out the regulator had placed a reminder in the regulatory round-ups published on its website in both January and February last year advising of the 31 March cut-off point for charges.

This follows news last week of a Complaints Commissioner decision in favour of the FCA in which the complainant called for a refund of yearly fees after cancelling their firms’ authorisation early in the year.

The complainant was charged for 12 months of authorisation but de-registered their firm less than six months into the billing period.

Complaints Commissioner Anthony Townsend said he had received several similar complaints, but added the introduction of pro-rata fees was likely too expensive for the regulator to justify.

The FCA’s spokeswoman says: “We are very clear about the date by when firms wishing to cancel need to have cancelled their authorisations.”

A breakdown of the cancellation process on the FCA website shows firms need to have planned to stop carrying out regulated activities within six months of their application.

Watch: Where do your FCA fees go?

All outstanding regulatory fees must have been paid at the time of application, along with fees associated with any outstanding complaints.

Firms must also prove they have suitable arrangements in place to deal with any complaints and liabilities that may arise within the cancellation arrangement period.

FCA case officers then have up to six months in which to make a decision on the cancellation, or 12 months in the event that part of the paperwork is incomplete.

The regulator confirmed the full annual fee must be paid for the year in which the cancellation process takes place, even in the event that the firm has already ceased regulated activities.

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  1. In other words: Get stuffed, nothing’s going to change.

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