Direct FCA Authorisation for firms with us as compliance consultant specialists, assisting them in their project often raise the same types of Frequently Asked Questions about setting up a business and getting through the FCA authorisation process.
The process for applying for FCA authorisation can be fraught with frustration and confusion, as the FCA do not always use common practice words or phrases.
These questions are not exhaustive, but you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Is your firm registered with FCA? If so, what is the reference number? No, we are a consultancy and conduct no regulated activities, so we do not need to be authorised by the regulator. Please Google “Compliance Consultants, London” and you will find us listed near the top with 5* ratings.
2. Based on your past experiences, what are the possible obstacles of getting the authorisation? You will need a comprehensive regulatory business plan (which we can provide) and the Threshold Conditions have to be met. Once the UK MD/Senior Management are in place and they have a plan on setting up, most obstacles can be identified and mitigated. For a regulatory perspective it is the Threshold Conditions and experienced staff that are vital to the start-up. You may need to front costs for an MD,CFO and COO for up to a year (or possibly longer) before authorisation is obtained. It is vital to have a regulatory adviser (us) also available but on an as and when required basis.
3. If you take our case, will you be able to guarantee that you will be able to help my team to obtain the direct FCA license? Nobody can guarantee FCA approval. We can guarantee helping, but the approval at the end of the day is not due to a formula. If you have experienced people in the UK running the business and the business model is sound, then there is every chance of success. We cannot be responsible for failed competency interviews with the regulator.
4. Will you be able to help us to recruit qualified UK based directors, if so how will this be conducted? Yes, we can work with recruitment consultants on this for you.
5. Will you be able to help us to prepare and pass the FCA interviews? Yes, the interviews may or may not be required, but we are used to briefing candidates for positions. The Compliance Director/MLRO and MD are usually called for interview above any others. We also offer, as an additional service, coaching for SMFs on the types of questions asked for FCA direct authorisation; see this page SMF Coaching Short Course.
6. Will you able to help us to complete all the Legal terms and affairs? Yes, we can assist by using lawyers here that are FCA experienced. The lawyer costs will be extra. We can source costs for you.
7. What preparations or documents do we have to prepare in advance and bring/send to the U.K.? We will need to see your existing business plan and full details of your existing company; website, incorporation documents, directors CVs etc, normal business due diligence material. ALSO we will need contact details of the company (no Yahoo/Gmail accounts). You may also require additional areas covered as regulations develop, such as Consumer Duty implementation plans, Operational Resilience, Safeguarding accounts (PSD2 firms). We will advise you at the start.
8. If we are interested in working with you, what is the next step we should take? We usually work under a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement. We have one or we can use yours if you prefer.
Initial step. Send us your business plan and we will provide a quote for a fixed price project along with our Terms of Business. Give us the go ahead and we will send you an invoice for the initial payment. We typically charge a split payment of 50% Initial, 25% on submission (4-6 weeks after start) and 25% 90 days later. We also have financing options available through a regulated 3rd party. Please ask for details.
9. Typically how long will it take to prepare the case before submission? Around 4-6 weeks to fully prepare and complete the Regulatory Business Plan (from your business plan) but you should send all details of a current business plan to us along with the due diligence documents mentioned above. The application will take 26 weeks as a minimum. We will answer any regulatory queries during this process and any business or technical questions (platform, business continuity, cyber security etc) will be the new businesses responsibility.
10. Based on our knowledge, we must set up the company prior to apply. So we would like to know what is the average cost to rent an office in London or nearby?
As a guide for Grade A space (with IT infrastructure in place) you would expect the following rates. These locations are most popular with ForEx and Financial Services. Prices are per person per calendar month (pp pcm.) VAT is 20%.
· Mayfair / Belgravia: £800-1250pp pcm + VAT
· City of London: £750-900pp pcm + VAT
· Canary Wharf: £500-600pp pcm + VAT
11. Can you help us hire a UK based director(authorised by FCA) to arrange the set-up and what are the salary ranges?
Salaries here are approximately £120,000 – £200,000 for Executive Directors with Senior Managers around £90,000. CEOs are running between £160,000 – £300,000. Recruitment companies charge around 20% of base annual salary as their fee. This fee is often required to be paid in stages. We would recommend initial screening done here and then a meeting with your team for the final candidates as you prefer.
It may take 3 – 6 months to recruit the right Managing Director as notice periods are usually 3 months.
12. Some of my key members will have to go to London to set up everything, how will we obtain a business visa? Initially, your Key People may be better off applying for a Standard Visitor visa (available at https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa) – eg if you’re coming to the UK for conferences, meetings, training, academic research or a sabbatical. Once your UK business is established and starting up, they can then arrange for business visas when the setting up is needed.
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