Financial Regulatory Forum

Firms must prepare for UK approved persons grilling

Joanne Wallen

LONDON, May 31 (ThomsonReuters Accelus)

Corporate executives and directors in Britain must be prepared for increasingly rigorous interviews by the Financial Services Authority to be accepted as “approved persons” eligible to hold positions of significant responsibility in their firms.

Nadia Swann, a partner in Linklaters’ financial regulation group, told a briefing that the Financial Services Authority’s interview process had become more formal after the government-commissionerd Walker Review on Corporate Governance in late 2009 recommended an overhaul of the FSA’s approved persons oversight. Now there is an increased focus on the competence of approved persons and those in significant influence functions.

The first to be called to the FSA panel for interviews hadn’t expected the grilling, Swann said. Interviewees now face detailed practical questions to assess their competence. Questions included: “What have you failed to achieve for this company?” or “What are your greatest weaknesses?” and even “What are you personal development plans?”

Firms should have seen the warning signs in speeches from the FSA over the past year or so in which the regulator talked about looking at the judgments being made by senior managers, she said. It essential to prepare people to answer the FSA’s questions.

This increased scrutiny shows how approved persons and senior management will be held accountable by the regulator. The FSA now inquires about candidates’ level of autonomy within the firm and their accountability. She suggested candidates might need two or three mock interviews to prepare for the real thing.

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