To become an authorised firm, you must show you meet our minimum standards – known as our Threshold Conditions.
You also must comply with our principles and our rules about systems and controls.
Read this page before submitting your application through our online system, Connect. This guidance is not exhaustive, and you may need to consider additional factors.
What to read before applying
You should review information on the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, and these FCA Handbook modules:
- PERG: The Perimeter Guidance Manual – explain, in detail, how the permissions are required and match up with your business model.
- COND: Threshold Conditions – explain and demonstrate how you'll continue to meet each Threshold Condition.
- MCOB: Mortgage Conduct of Business Sourcebook – provide details and demonstrate how you will comply with these rules.
- Prudential sourcebook for Mortgage and Home Finance Firms, and Insurance Intermediaries (MIPRU) – relevant to the permissions you're applying for.
You should also review our portfolio letter for mortgages intermediaries setting out our view of the main risks of harm in the portfolio and the action we expect firms to take. You should also review the correspondence for insurance intermediaries and credit brokers if you are also proposing to carry out these activities.
Preparing your application
You’ll need to complete and submit all the required forms relevant to your business type and you will need to provide a business plan that covers all key areas of your business. For help, see our sample business plan and the information below.
Some applications take longer and maybe refused because the business plan is inadequate and does not provide the required detail and supporting evidence. Ensure you include the following sections to help your application.
- Background: State the aims and objectives of your firm and why you're applying for authorisation. Ensure you detail the full range of activities your firm will undertake including activities not regulated by the FCA.
- Permissions: Explain why the permissions applied for are needed for your business.
- Sourcing of customers: Explain fully how you will source customers, including details of any introducers or lead generators you will use and details on the due diligence you will carry out on introducers.
- Financial Promotions: Provide details of any website or social media advertising. See our further information.
- Staff: Include an organisation chart that shows your key staff, roles, and where they are located. Clearly set out the experience of the Senior Managers of the firm and explain why you believe they have the necessary skills, experience, and regulatory knowledge to lead an authorised firm. If you employ multiple advisers, including any self-employed advisers, explain how they are to be renumerated and the how their advice is overseen and supervised.
- Financial projections: Provide detailed projections that show how you will meet your minimum capital requirements on an ongoing basis and provide a breakdown of all the different streams of revenue you will receive. Include fees and charges customers are expected to pay for your services and explain your rationale in determining this fee structure.
- Financial Crime: Provide information on policies you have in place as well as the day-to-day controls and procedures to counter this risk, in particular mortgage fraud. Include details of what processes you have in place to prevent, discover, and report fraud
- Disclosure: You must answer all questions on the application honestly, including on Form As, and you must provide us with full information regarding any disclosures you make, including details any removals you have had from lender or product providers’ panels. If in doubt, let us know as much as possible, even if it may not seem relevant. The FCA takes non-disclosure very seriously and may consider it to be evidence of dishonesty and/or lack of integrity should information not be disclosed to us.
Our assessment of your application will include reviewing:
- The processes and controls you have in place to ensure the products you will recommend are suitable for your customers' needs.
- Whether your fees and charges represent fair value, and whether you have processes in place to check that providers have carried out a value assessment of their product and charges.
- How your communications, such as suitability letters, with your customers will aid their understanding of the products you are selling, and how you will evaluate the effectiveness of such communications.
- How you will support your customers through the sales process, with a particular focus on customers with characteristics of vulnerability.
- How you will monitor customer outcomes, including details of the management information you will collect to do so, and how you will use this to improve your service. This should be set out in your business plan.
Avoid delays to the process
Many factors could delay the application process, so here is some advice to help you ensure your application goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Make sure your application has no incomplete or missing forms. Where required, documentation should be signed, with passwords provided if files are password protected.
Please ensure, where required, that Criminal Record Checks had been undertaken and regulatory references have been obtained and available should we ask for it.
We may reject or refuse applications which are missing key forms or where the information is inadequate.
Your assessment 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. Your application, business plan and financial forecasts should all align and be specific to your firm.
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 demonstrate in detail the compliance arrangements that will be in place to meet your firm’s ongoing regulatory obligations.
If you need more help
Contact us on 0300 500 0597. We're open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9am to 5pm, and Thursday 9.45am to 5pm.