12Oct

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has provided a great deal of information on the ongoing process of authorising around 50,000 consumer credit firms in its latest Data Bulletin, published in early October 2015.

All credit firms that were regulated by the Office of Fair Trading on April 1 2014 and which wished to continue trading were allocated ‘interim permission’ status with the FCA. These firms were all then allocated a three-month period in which they would need to submit their application for full or limited permission. The last of these application periods ends on March 31 2016.

Excluding appointed representatives, there were 41,937 active consumer credit firms as of June 30 2015. 25,073 of these still hold an interim permission, 16,096 have been fully authorised and 768 have been grandfathered into the FCA regime (this is a special facility only available to certain not-for-profit firms). Most of the firms authorised so far are credit brokers.

In total, 23,960 firms have applied for authorisation (16,410 are or were holders of interim permission and 7,450 firms are new to the credit market). 11,972 holders of interim permission have not proceeded to full/limited permission after the close of their application period – this might be because the firm has exited the market, or because a group of firms has re-arranged its corporate structure so that it contains fewer regulated entities.

94% of applications to date have been successful, and only 23 firms (around 0.1% of the total) have seen their applications refused. The remaining 5.9% of firms have withdrawn their application.

Applications for full permission are currently taking as long as 24 weeks to assess on average. This reduces to 10 weeks for a limited permission case, although the FCA expects processing times to increase in the foreseeable future.

The bulletin also reports that only 28 (3.7%) of the 749 financial promotions the FCA reviewed in the second quarter of 2015 needed to be amended or withdrawn. 11 of these were consumer credit promotions and 10 were from the investment sector.

Complaints against the FCA are also mentioned in the bulletin. These have risen slightly, with 243 being received in the first half of 2015, compared to 192 in the second half of 2014. In the first instance, the FCA investigates complaints made against themselves, and only 13% of the complaints received in this 12 month period were upheld, with another 7% partially upheld. 34% were rejected and 45% were not investigated, perhaps because they were little more than a general expression of dissatisfaction, or because they were outside the FCA’s scope.

If the complainant is not satisfied with the FCA’s response, they can refer it to the Complaints Commissioner, who upheld just three previously rejected complaints against the FCA in this time period.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.