The Financial Conduct Authority’s data collection system Gabriel is set to be replaced with an “easy-to-use” platform to allow the regulator to “more swiftly” identify, intervene and remediate issues.
The regulator has started work to improve the way it collects data from firms and says it wants the views of users to help “shape its thinking”.
It says: “Work is at an early stage and initial changes will be technology focused, so to begin with there will be no change to the way you currently provide data to us.”
The FCA stressed it will “communicate in good time” before asking advisers and other users to take any action.
Gabriel is the FCA’s main regulatory data collection system, which facilitates the collection of more than 500,000 submissions annually, across 120,000 users and 52,000 firms.
The FCA says it wants to implement an easy-to-use system to allow users to submit data in a way that is “efficient” for them and through a system and approach that can be adapted to the FCA’s “changing needs”.
The survey asks people about their experience of the Gabriel system and ideas to improve it. Feedback will be used to help the FCA make “more significant improvements” and develop a new platform.
Results from the survey will be provided by the FCA later this year and it will share its future plans for data collections with interested stakeholders in “due course”.
The FCA says this work is central to its data strategy. The new data collection platform will support its digital regulatory reporting work, which is exploring how technology could make it easier for firms to meet their regulatory reporting requirements and improve the quality of information they provide.
Financial Technology Research Centre director Ian McKenna suggests advisers have had a “love/hate or perhaps a love to hate” relationship with Gabriel over the years.
He says: “Many will I’m sure be glad to see the back of it, but there is also the element of ‘be careful what you wish for’. It is to the FCA‘s credit that they are actively seeking views from users on how the next system could work better.
“With huge potential that data has to transform financial advice over the coming years, it is inevitable that advisers will face more and more data request from regulators going forward. I think it’s a when, not if, the regulator will expect to have a backdoor into any advisers’ systems so they can go in and look at what’s going on whenever they like without the adviser even knowing they are in there. There have certainly been moves in this direction elsewhere in the world.”
CWC Research managing director Clive Waller adds: “I have sympathy with the FCA here. Data gathering is always tough. The fall-back position is always to ask for more.
“Someone should say, ‘Do we really need this? Will we really use it?
“I have no doubt they intend to ease the adviser load but will be surprised if they do.”
Gabriel stands for “gathering better regulatory information electronically” and was intended to act as a central hub of data for the FCA.
The system will be unavailable from 10pm on Friday 19 July until 7am on Monday 22 July due to “routine maintenance”.