The past year has been a turbulent time for consumer credit businesses previously authorised by the OFT. There can be no doubt that compliance has to be at the forefront of your business in 2014, both when seeking authorisation and with your ongoing needs.

All Consumer Credit businesses will need to have applied for authorisation by 2016, with certain types of business being called earlier than others. This process will be challenging and include things never before asked for, such as, regulatory business plans, personal liability through the Approved Persons regime and ongoing reporting and monitoring.

ALPH’s consultants have been working with Consumer Credit Businesses for many years, and now with these stringent new FCA requirements and the potential remedies, our experience leads us to believe these requirements will be difficult for many Consumer Credit businesses to meet and maintain.

With our wealth of experience, we are able to offer a complete, well-rounded service to our clients which enables us to provide you with a health check for your company, and the best chance to get your businesses authorised.

Once you achieve Authorisation the onus is on you to ensure that you maintain the standards expected of you by the FCA. Whatever procedures and policies you have presented to obtain the authorisation must be implemented, and it is up to you to prove that you are following these and improving them where possible using information gathered from your day to day trading.

ALPH can help you every step along the way!

We will review every part of your business, from Websites to employment contracts and then provide you with a Gap Analysis showing you where you are and where you need to be. We will investigate your business model and work with you to develop a business plan that is consistent with this model and all of your policies. This will include looking at all sources of funding, profitability models and defaults. We will also look at staff bonus schemes to ensure that they are structured in a way that is not detrimental to your customers.

You will need to appoint Approved Persons in your business. We can explain what this means, work with you to develop a case that supports your choice of individuals, showing why they are worthy of that status and then assist with adapting your contracts of employment to cover every eventuality.

If you intend using the Authorised Representative model then we can assist you with your FCA authorisation process and develop a robust system for identifying qualified businesses that you can authorise. We will also develop the contracts and guidance for you to appoint and going forward to monitor these businesses.

Pre-authorisation considerations should be:

  • Do we have a Regulatory Business Plan in the appropriate format?
  • Do we have all of our Policies and Procedures written and up-to-date?
  • Do we have a Risk Register and is it up-to-date?
  • Do we have a Business Continuity Plan?
  • What form will our ongoing Compliance Monitoring be and do we have a plan to show to the FCA?
  • Can we get insurance for Approved Persons?
  • Is social media monitored for our business?
  • Is the Treatment of our Customers at the forefront of our business model and can we prove it?

Once you have considered the above and as you approach your Landing Slot, it may be time to seek outside assistance. ALPH can assist with all aspects of your compliance and have as little or as much interaction with your business as you would like. You need to take control of your compliance tasks now to show the FCA that you are serious and fit for business.

Once you have achieved authorisation, compliance isn’t just neatly filed away. You will have a duty to continually monitor your business to ensure that in all aspects you are meeting the standards that are expected of you by the FCA. This will mean monitoring staff behaviour – calls or face to face dealings with customers – and ensuring that on-going training is maintained, reviewing individual cases and reporting back to senior management any concerns you have.

Whilst an internal compliance team may well be in place, external monitoring on a regular basis is advised to ensure the highest possible level of performance is maintained.

Managing complaints is also an area that needs consideration. A Root Cause Analysis is required and where issues are found within systems they should be corrected. A member of the board of the company must be responsible for compliant handling and resolution and this should be a regular agenda item on board meetings to ensure this responsibility is taken seriously.

Please contact us to arrange your free consultation.