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Alternative Market Briefing

Other Voices: International compliance - a new era for SMCR

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Andrew Shrimpton, Executive Chairman of Compliance Consulting

With great power comes great responsibility. Yes, but in the era of SMCR, heads of compliance have found out that even a medium amount of power now comes with an almost unpalatable amount of personal accountability - and legal jeopardy.

In many cases, this has already resulted in an unseemly game of buck-passing, as senior managers attempt to work out who is legitimately responsible for what - and what can be distributed elsewhere. And for the 10 percent of -currently approved persons who are not based in the UK, it has been tempting to regard this as just another London-based spectator sport.

But this is all set to change. Buck-passing is going global, as the FCA attempts to close what it regards as a fundamental weakness in the financial market. The rules of responsibility will apply equally to foreign-domiciled compliance managers with a UK office, team and infrastructure as they do to firms founded and solely based in Britain.

That means, if the London office makes a mistake, you can still be held accountable, fined or worse, even if you're based in New York, Boston or San Francisco.

This is quite a substantial liability shift and there is plenty that can be done to prepare, but in reality, many firms are repeating the mistakes of 2018 when GDPR came in, by burying their heads in the sand and assuming that geography would protect them. It didn't then and it won't now.

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