Some dates for a financial services professional’s diary in the first six months of 2017 include:

• January 26 – the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s Mission consultation closes. In the regulator’s own words, the Mission is “designed to provide a guiding set of principles around the strategic choices the FCA makes.”
• March 8 – the Chancellor delivers the last Spring Budget, then in November he will deliver another Budget
• March 31 – the consultation on funding of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) funding consultation closes, with new rules then expected to be announced in the autumn. The FCA is examining a number of options, including merging some of the FSCS funding classes, extending protection to consumer credit and changing some of the compensation limits
• April 6 – the new Lifetime Isa launches. Whilst it is unclear how many firms will offer this product, it will be an option for any person aged under 40 who either wishes to save for retirement and/or save towards a deposit on a home
• Sometime in the first half of the year – a report will be published giving the latest situation regarding the Financial Advice Market Review. The Treasury and FCA have produced 28 recommendations as they examine whether the financial advice market is working in the interests of consumers, and seek to improve access to financial services

Some other key issues for firms to be aware of include:

• The FCA’s 2016 suitability thematic review – last year the FCA audited client files from some 700 firms, and at some stage this year it may publish the results of its findings, although Rory Percival, who used to work for the FCA as technical specialist, has suggested that they may not publish anything at all. If they do, then all advisory firms will need to take careful note of the report’s findings and make appropriate adjustments to their advice processes
• It’s set to be another year of individual accountability – although the Senior Managers & Certification Regime will not be rolled out across the sector until 2018, the FCA has in recent months and years shown an increased willingness to prohibit senior managers rather than fine firms when it finds evidence of wrongdoing. Expect the FCA to continue to focus on the effect a firm’s culture has on its conduct
• Cybersecurity – this issue will never go away, and cyberattacks are an ever-growing threat. Firms need to take this subject very seriously indeed, and must continue to talk to their IT service providers and ensure they are doing everything in their power to minimise the risk of these attacks. Firms also need documented procedures outlining their proposed response to any cyber breach
• Brexit – whilst the UK will still be a member of the European Union at the end of 2017, the issue will certainly never be far from the top of the news agenda this year. Firms need to ensure they are ready for Brexit and that they continue to monitor developments in this area

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.