FCA to replace Gabriel to ‘improve’ data collection

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.

Can the FCA get rid of Gabriel’s gremlins?

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.

FCA survives complaints over Gabriel guidance

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”.


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There are 14 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Will this just be another piece of convoluted form filling that they wont read? If they had read and studied the Gabriel returns properly in the first place it is more than probable that the burdens on the FSCS (and hence the FS community) would have been considerably reduced.

    • Agree 100% Harry (amazing know!). They don’t seem to interrogate Companies House and their own register much nor surf the internet to track down the fraudulent/criminal rip-offs either. The cliché “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” springs to mind!

    • “If they had read and studied the Gabriel returns properly in the first place it is more than probable that the burdens on the FSCS (and hence the FS community) would have been considerably reduced”

      What data that is curently collected ould the FCA have looked at and would have stopped the burden on the FSCS?

      • I established a new firm almost two years ago and had a telephone review with someone from the FCA as part of a new initiative from them. It was refreshing to see that they had looked at my previous return(s) and were able to ask pertinent questions. If a similar approach had been adopted years ago I am sure that some of the cowboys would have been weeded out. You will never cull all of these bottom-feeding scum but if we can get rid of some then it’s worth doing.

      • They collect enough financial information and this together with Companies House they should be able to spot men of straw.

  2. Not before time either ! although can I reserve judgement till I know what the new system morphs into ?

    At the end of the day gathering data is easy…. why ask questions to things you will never need or act on, firms need to be asked certain questions pertinent to their business model not as it is, a present blanket grey spreadsheet.

    Finally focus on, areas that are known to be problematic both now and for the future …..

    What the FCA need to ask themselves is ……what questions could we have asked 10 years ago ? that would have prevented or indeed minimised the fallout of the recent disasters !

    That is a massive failing on their part, which has caused major detriment to the consumer

    I have always wondered why the FCA don’t ask the same questions as a PI insurer…. when you consider the FCA, needs to understand the risk (probably more so) that firms are exposed to ?

  3. The LC&F debacle comes to mind. Will the new system include gathering data on non-qualified and non-regulated individuals who work for a non-regulated marketing firm linked to a regulated firm and who are subsequently decided to have given “advice without a personal recommendation”?

    Somehow I doubt it.

  4. As with the vast majority of advisers we question do they actually use the data they collect? My opinion is they do, but are also held back with the burden of proof of wrong doing. The FCA is frequently criticized for not acting on potential offenders on their watch list, but have to actually be able to prove any wring doing, which is not easy.

    What the new system should concentrate on are the known products to cause poor outcomes. Look at the number of SIPP’s, unregulated investments and level of high risk products any adviser/company is transacting. They have this date already, but a simplified system or a system with better algorithms to identify dangerous practice is clearly needed.

  5. Personally I have just got the hang of the existing system, so that it only takes me about half a day to complete, due to the way I keep my records on a spreadsheet that assists with the completion. I am not viewing the prospect of another change unless it really is more straightforward.

  6. In reply to Chris de Luca and Harry Katz

    You have not answered the question. What specific parts of the RMAR return would prevent bad practice.

    For example, the appalling mess with BSPS, advisers who put clients into car parks in Dubai etc

    • Significant changes in business mix should warrant further inspection and, crucially, create a flag on any firm that is connected to, employing etc the individual(s) in question. It might not stop the damage but it might lessen it and possibly prevent the cowboys from repeating what they have done. No system is foolproof but anything that is done is better than where we are now.

  7. Julian Stevens 18th July 2019 at 1:47 pm

    The primary objectives of any new RMAR system should be:-

    1. Simplification.

    2. Clarification.

    3. Increasing the relevancy of the data sought to the FCA’s regulatory responsibilities.

    4. Auto-flag ups in respect of any potentially high risk activities, leading to the requirement for further information to be submitted, not least, in respect of any off-piste investments, proof of relevant PII cover.

    Above all else, the over-arching objective should be to enable the FCA to regulate in a proportionate and appropriately targeted manner, because we know without a shadow of doubt that trying to regulate everyone according to the lowest common denominator hasn’t worked and will never do so. Over-burdensome regulation pushes up costs for the good guys (and their clients) whilst the bad guys just ignore it and continue to flog ultra high risk junk that’s suitable for nobody.

    What the FCA needs to do is create a system that will enable it to do its job properly, in place of one that prevents it from being able to do so.

  8. Probably more data to promote how bad advisers are,how little value they add for their fees, how they charge by contingency, what they are doing wrong, and back this up by putting out adverts about scammers and PPI claims;
    Because: If everything is bad the FCA stay necessary, more reviews on the reviews are needed and the regulatory bandwagon can roll on!

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