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TC App 6.1 Accredited bodies

TC App 6.1.1G

1Introduction

1.

An accredited body is a body appearing in the list of such bodies in the Glossary.1

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2.

Information on accredited bodies, including guidance on the process for including an applicant body in the list, is set out below and the obligation to pay the application fee is set out in FEES 3.2.

3.

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Process for including a body in the list of accredited bodies

4.

In considering the compatibility of a proposed addition with the statutory objectives, the FCA will determine whether the applicant will, if accredited, contribute to securing an appropriate degree of protection for consumers having regard in particular to:

(1)

the matters set out in paragraphs 10 to 20; and

(2)

the rules and practices of the applicant.

5.

An application to the FCA to be added to the list of accredited bodies should set out how the applicant will satisfy the criteria in paragraphs 10 to 20. The application should be accompanied by a report from a suitable auditor which sets out its independent assessment of the applicant's ability to meet these criteria. An application form is available from the FCA upon request.

6.

When considering an application for accredited body status the FCA may:

(1)

carry out any enquiries and request any further information that it considers appropriate, including consulting other regulators;

(2)

ask the applicant or its specified representative to answer questions and explain any matter the FCA considers relevant to the application;

(3)

take into account any information which the FCA considers appropriate to the application; and

(4)

request that any information provided by the applicant or its specified representative is verified in such a manner as the FCA may specify.

7.

The FCA will confirm its decision in writing to the applicant.

8.

The FCA will enter into an agreement with the applicant or accredited body which will specify the requirements that the accredited body must meet. These will include the matters set out in paragraphs 10 to 20. Approval as an accredited body becomes effective only when the name of the applicant is added to the Glossary definition of accredited body.

9.

Paragraphs 10 to 20 set out the criteria which an applicant should meet to become an accredited body and which an accredited body should meet at all times.

Acting in the public interest and furthering the development of the profession

10.

The FCA will expect an accredited body to act in the public interest, to contribute to raising consumer confidence and professional standards in the retail investment advice market and to promoting the profession.

Carrying out effective verification services

11.

If independent verification of a retail investment adviser's professional standards has been carried out by an accredited body, the FCA will expect the accredited body to provide the retail investment adviser with evidence of that verification in a durable medium and in a form agreed by the FCA. This is referred to in this Appendix and TC 2.1.28 R as a 'statement of professional standing'.

12.

The FCA will expect an accredited body to have in place effective procedures for carrying out its verification activities. These should include:

(1)

verifying that each retail investment adviser who is a member of or subscriber to the accredited body's verification service has made an annual declaration in writing that the retail investment adviser has, in the preceding 12 months, complied with APER or, for a relevant authorised person, complied with COCON 2and completed the continuing professional development required under TC 2.1.15 R;1

(2)

verifying annually the continuing professional development records of no less than 10% of the retail investment advisers who have used its service in the previous 12 months to ensure that the records are accurate and the continuing professional development completed by the retail investment advisers is appropriate; and

(3)

verifying that, if required by TC, the retail investment advisers who use its services have attained an appropriate qualification. This should include, where relevant, checking that appropriate qualification gap-fill records have been completed by the retail investment advisers.

13.

The FCA will not expect an accredited body to carry out the verification in paragraph 12(3) if a retail investment adviser provides the accredited body with evidence in a durable medium which demonstrates that another accredited body has previously verified the retail investment adviser's appropriate qualification, including, where relevant, appropriate qualification gap-fill.

14.

The FCA will expect an accredited body to make it a contractual condition of membership (where a retail investment adviser is a member of the accredited body) or of using its verification service (where a retail investment adviser is not a member of the accredited body) that, as a minimum, the accredited body will not continue to verify a retail investment adviser's standards and will3 withdraw its statement of professional standing if it 2is provided with:3

(a) false information in relation to a retail investment adviser’s qualifications or continuing professional development; or3

(b) a false declaration in relation to a retail investment adviser’s compliance with APER; or3

(c) for a relevant authorised person, compliance with COCON.3

In this regard, an accredited body must have in place appropriate decision-making procedures with a suitable degree of independence and transparency.

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Having appropriate systems and controls in place and providing evidence to the FCA of continuing effectiveness

15.

The FCA will expect an accredited body to ensure that it has adequate resources and systems and controls in place in relation to its role as an accredited body.

16.

The FCA will expect an accredited body to have effective procedures in place for the management of conflicts of interest and have a well-balanced governance structure with at least one member who is independent of the sector.

17.

The FCA will expect an accredited body to have a code of ethics and to ensure that its code of ethics and verification service terms and conditions do not contain any provisions that conflict with APER or COCON2.

Ongoing cooperation with the FCA

18.

The FCA will expect an accredited body to provide the FCA with such documents and information as the FCA reasonably requires, and to cooperate with the FCA in an open and transparent manner.

19.

The FCA will expect an accredited body to share information with the FCA (subject to any legal constraints) in relation to the professional standards of the retail investment advisers who use its service as appropriate. Examples might include conduct issues, complaints, dishonestly obtaining or falsifying qualifications or continuing professional development or a failure to complete appropriate continuing professional development. The FCA will expect an accredited body to notify the firm if issues such as these arise.

20.

The FCA will expect an accredited body to submit to the FCA an annual report by a suitable independent auditor which sets out that auditor's assessment of the quality of the body's satisfaction of the criteria in paragraphs 10 to 19 in the preceding 12 months and whether, in the auditor's view, the body is capable of satisfying the criteria in the subsequent 12 months. The FCA will expect this annual report to be submitted to the FCA within three months of the anniversary of the date on which the accredited body was added to the Glossary definition of accredited body.

Withdrawal of accreditation

21.

If an accredited body fails or, in the FCA's view, is likely to fail to satisfy the criteria, the FCA will discuss this with the accredited body concerned. If, following a period of discussion, the accredited body has failed to take appropriate corrective action to ensure that it satisfies and will continue to satisfy the criteria, the FCA will withdraw the accredited body's accreditation by removing its name from the list of accredited bodies published in the Glossary. The FCA will expect the body to notify each retail investment adviser holding a current statement of professional standing of the FCA's decision. A statement of professional standing issued by the accredited body before the withdrawal of accreditation will continue to be valid until its expiration.