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Firm authorisation

How we are making form filling easier for applicants

Image of Emily Sheppard

Emily Shepperd

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director, Authorisations

We're making improvements to the application process for authorisation and the first form we're looking at is Form A.

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Any business that wants to provide regulated financial products and services must be authorised by us.

Each year we assess and determine thousands of applications from firms and individuals.

We're maintaining high standards at the gateway, the process through which a firm must be assessed as suitable and competent before it's approved, to prevent harm to consumers and provide stability.

Our aim is to be a digital and data-led regulator, with a robust and efficient authorisation process that supports a safe and trusted market and helps UK growth and competitiveness.

To gain authorisation or registration, applicants must fill out the relevant application forms, which can be accessed via the Connect system. Firms also need to fill out a form to request changes to their permissions, for example to add or change Senior Manager Functions or to cancel permissions, among other things.

We know it's important that applications are assessed and determined as efficiently as possible.

We're making improvements to the process to make it quicker and easier for firms and people to apply for authorisation.

Changes to our forms mean we can collect higher quality data and applications, while responding quickly to protect consumers from emerging harms.

We've listened to feedback that many of our application forms can be complicated and difficult to use.

We've done a lot of research with firms that will help us simplify the language of our forms, improve accessibility and provide better guidance. Any duplicative requests for information are being removed and some of the data we already hold will be prepopulated to save time and effort.

Changes to our most used form 

This year, we've had more than 15,000 Senior Management and Controlled Function applications, which are applied for using Form A.

So, the first form to undergo changes is Form A. This is used for Senior Management Functions and Controlled Functions applications and is one of the longest and most used forms.

Following excellent feedback from user testing, we've now begun gradually rolling out the new Form A. This will support quicker assessments and determinations.

When we've completed the roll-out of improvements to Form A, we intend to make changes to other application forms.

As a result, we plan to reduce the overall number of forms we ask for and make the application process more efficient.

We've invested in new technology so any changes to our authorisation forms can be made quickly. This helps us effectively respond to feedback or new harm in the market.

These changes build on the improvements we've already made to the time it takes to process applications by hiring more staff and automating some of our systems.

Improving our authorisation system is a never-ending process and we value comments and feedback from applicants to make it better and easier to use.

Advice available before applications are made 

We're still seeing incomplete applications, which inevitably delays the authorisation process as we then need to get in touch asking for the relevant information to make our decisions.

To help rectify this, our improved forms will have clearer signposting to help firms understand which fields are mandatory. Mandatory fields must be filled in before an application can be submitted.

Firms can also do their bit by making sure they know what needs to be included before they finalise their applications. We've provided helpful advice on the Authorisations section of our website.