Approved Person Interviews
FCA Approved Person interviews can be an extremely stressful time for the individuals and firms affected. Often they will not even understand the reason why an approved person interview has been arranged. Preparation is key. Below we explain what you need to think about and how we can support you.
Why does the FCA invite individuals in for an interview?
The FCA will usually undertake approved person interviews because it has questions about an individual’s fitness and propriety. This could be due to something disclosed on an FCA application, the individual’s prior employment history, or concerns about their supervision by the applicant firm. More recently, especially in connection with significant-influence function (SIF) roles, approved person interviews are often prompted by the FCA’s concern to make sure the applicant fully understands the importance of their role and responsibilities.
The application process
Individuals applying for a SIF are required to submit a Long Form A, while the applicant firm is required to ensure that appropriate due diligence is completed and any matters that need to be disclosed are disclosed.
FCA guidance on this can be found here.
Applicants failing to disclose relevant matters fully and openly, or applicant firms failing to complete the required due diligence, often explain why individuals or firms have been asked to attend an interview. So getting the next stage right is key to securing a positive outcome.
FCA interview process
Approved person interviews with the FCA usually take between two and four hours. During this time, you’ll be expected to answer a range of competency-based questions on issues including the following:
- General requirements of being an approved person
- Candidates’ understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines
- Follow-up on disclosures made in the application process
- Details on the applicant firm and its supervisory provisions (especially where there is previous evidence of poor conduct by the individual or firm)
- Candidates’ understanding of the key risks facing the business, and how these are managed and reported within the business.
The FCA asks these questions at approved person interviews to confirm whether you as an individual will be a capable and competent approved person. So it’s vital you prepare carefully for your approved person interview to give yourself the best chance of achieving the right outcome.
How should you prepare?
Our team has extensive experience of working with applicants and applicant firms. We can help you prepare for approved person interviews by conducting the following assessments:
- Reviewing your application pack and correspondence with the FCA – so we can advise on any areas of weakness in your application
- Advising on whether to press ahead with your application at this stage – there’s nothing to be gained from putting a candidate through the application process if they won’t meet the FCA’s fitness and propriety requirements
- Conducting mock interviews – we’ll prepare both candidate and firm to ensure you present as being well organised and effective during the interview. We’ve helped firms and individuals through this process many times, so you’ll need to trust us and take our advice if you want to achieve the best outcome
- Attending approved person interviews – while we can’t answer questions on behalf of candidates or firms, we can help manage the interview process and provide guidance along the way. Often simply providing guidance on the question asked is more than enough
- Arranging for you to speak to other candidates – successful candidates will be happy to talk you through their experiences in approved person interviews and how we were able to support them.
What happens after your interview?
Don’t go into an FCA approved person interview expecting to get approved straight away. What will normally happen is that the FCA will come back to you with any further questions they want to put to you or to ask for evidence to support statements you’ve made. With the right guidance, however, you should expect to hear back from the FCA within one to three weeks with news of your approval.
How we can help
We have the knowledge and the experience to help both individual applicants and firms get through approved person interviews successfully.
Typically, we would review and advise on the application pack and submissions made to date, undertake mock interviews with both candidate and applicant firm to assess their competence, advise of areas of weakness that need to be improved, and then attend the interview with you.