The FSA is rolling out a programme of workshops and follow-up visits later this year as part of its supervision of small firms.
The regulator’s ‘small firms regional assessment programme’ will follow a similar format to its treating customers fairly initiative which included roadshows, assessments and follow-up visits.
It follows a pilot with 55 firms earlier this year. The regional assessment programme will feature half-day workshops rather than roadshows, starting in the North West in November.
The workshops will focus on issues such as firms’ systems and controls, including how risks to the business and clients are identified, adequate business controls, and how good business practices tie in with good regulatory practice.
They will also focus on firms’ progress with implementing the RDR. Speaking at a Personal Finance Society RDR seminar last week, FSA head of investment intermediaries Linda Woodall said the regulator planned one-to-one sessions with small firms to discuss their RDR-readiness. Supervisors will give feedback on advisers’ business models and check whether they have met the necessary requirements.
The workshops will be followed by ‘regulatory reviews’ which are likely to start in February next year. The regulatory reviews will pick up on any issues that came out at the workshops, and will either be in the form of one-to-one surgery sessions or telephone interviews.
An FSA spokeswoman says: “This is a way of us going about supervising small businesses. The one aspect that was successful with the TCF roadshows was the fact that small firms get face to face contact with the FSA. That is why we are taking forward that same model. It is much broader than TCF. It is about giving small firms time with the FSA.”