Asset Manager Insights Series #1: The FCA Consumer Duty – What it means for Asset Managers: Part 1 – The Duty and the Implementation Timeline

The FCA previously announced final rules and guidance for a new Consumer Duty (the " Duty") that sets the standard of care that financial services firms must give to consumers in retail financial markets. By implementing the duty, the FCA hopes to drive a fundamental shift in the mindset of the financial services industry to being more consumer focused and firms should look to embed a focus of acting to deliver good outcomes in each of their business functions and put customer interests at the heart of their business model and culture.

The Duty:

The Duty is made up of a new Consumer Principle (Principle 12) together with three cross-cutting rules and a suite of rules and guidance in four key areas of the firm-consumer relationship.

A Consumer Principle – "a firm must act to deliver good outcomes for retail customers" This principle, reflects an overall market standard of behaviour that the FCA expects of firms to ensure an appropriate level of protection for retail customers.

The Cross Cutting Rules – these rules develop expectations for behaviour via three overarching requirements that set out how firms must act to deliver good outcomes for retail customers across all areas of firm conduct, the rules are:

  • Firms must avoid causing foreseeable harm to retail customers;
  • Firms must enable and support retail customers to pursue their financial objectives; and
  • Firms must act in good faith towards retail customers.

The Four Outcomes are a suite of rules and guidance that set out the FCA's expectations in a more detailed format over four key areas that represent key elements of the firm – consumer relationship: these being:

  • The governance of products and services;
  • Price and value;
  • Consumer understanding; and
  • Consumer support.

The FCA's Implementation Timeline:

o 31 October 2022: Firm Boards must have agreed implementation plans and be able to demonstrate that they have scrutinised and challenged the plans to ensure they can be delivered.

o 30 April 2023: manufacturers aim to complete all necessary reviews to meet the four outcomes for existing products and share with distributors the information necessary for them to meet their obligations under the Duty.

o 31 July 2023: firms must identify and complete any necessary changes to existing open products

o 31 July 2023: Duty comes into force for all new and existing open products.

o 31 July 2024: Duty comes into force for closed book products.

October implementation plans:

The FCA has recently clarified that while it does not expect firms to have necessarily fully scoped all work required to embed the Duty by the October deadline, it does expect firms to have set out how they will do so in time to ensure timely implementation. Where any work is needed with other parties to prepare for the Duty this should be factored in to ensure their plan allows enough time for this. Plans should be sufficiently developed to provide both firms’ governing bodies and the FCA with assurance that the expectations set out in the Duty have been carefully considered and will be implemented for new and existing products by 31 July 2023.

How Brodies can help:
In the second part of this two-part blog series, we will take a look at how the duty will impact asset and investment managers directly. 

Brodies Funds Team has extensive experience on advising asset managers and financial services firms on how to navigate the frequently changing regulatory landscape. If you have any queries on how the duty will impact you as a financial services firm, or require funds expertise more generally, please contact: Andrew Akintewe ([email protected]), or Paul McLaughlin ([email protected]).

Contributors

Harkirit Bilon

Trainee Solicitor (Corporate - Funds)