Retail investment firms

If you're a retail investment firm, you have to be authorised by us. Here we explain what you need to do before applying to us for authorisation.

To become an authorised retail investment firm, you have to show you meet our minimum standards – known as our threshold conditions.

You also have to comply with our principles and our rules about systems and controls.

Read this page before submitting your application through our online system Connect. Please note, this guidance is not exhaustive and you may need to consider additional factors on a case-by-case basis.

What to read before applying

Start by reading Our Approach to Authorisation and our page on being ready, willing and organised. This will help you understand our expectations of applicants.

Then review the following modules in the FCA Handbook:

  • PERG The Perimeter Guidance Manual – you'll need to explain how the permissions and investment types match up with your business model, and how you intend to hold and/or safeguard any client money or assets
  • COND Threshold Conditions – you'll need to explain how you'll continue to meet each threshold condition

Depending on your business type and the permissions you wish to apply for, you should also review the following prudential standards/specialist sourcebooks that are relevant to your firm:

Preparing your application

You will need to complete:

Avoid delays to the process

Many factors could delay the application process, so follow the information below to ensure your application goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Be prepared

Make sure your application has no incomplete or missing forms. Where required, documentation should be signed, with passwords provided if files are password protected.

Ensure that the technology or systems you will be using are ready to carry out the applied-for regulated activities and that you can provide evidence of how these will operate to support your business.

If applicable, you'll need to be able to provide notice of resignation to your employer or notice of authorised representative termination with your principal.

Be clear

Your application may be delayed if you have a generic business plan and don't explain your firm's specific activities and how these align with the permissions you're applying for.

You will also need to clearly explain how and why individuals in key roles at your firm were selected, based on their qualifications or relevant experience.

Be compliant

It's important that you identify conflicts of interest and explain how you intend to manage or mitigate them.

You must be open and co-operative with us (Principle 11) and provide responses within the requested dates.

Your application must make clear what compliance arrangements will be in place to meet your firm’s ongoing regulatory obligations.

If you need more help

Please contact us on 0300 500 0597. We're open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9am to 5pm, and Thursday 9.45am to 5pm.

Page updates

04/01/2022: Information changed Updated to reflect the IFPR coming into force on 1 January 2022
15/12/2021: Information added IFPR update
27/07/2021: Information added Investment Firms Prudential Regime (IFPR)
19/05/2021: Link changed IT self-assessment questionnaire

20/07/2020: Link changed Broken links fixed