The FCA has confirmed in its policy statement PS20-12 it will extend the deadline to 31 March 2021 for the following requirements:

• the date the Conduct Rules come into force, for staff who are not Senior Managers, Certification Staff or board directors 

• the date by which relevant employees must have received training on the Conduct Rules (this automatically follows from the extension in the previous bullet point) 

• the deadline for submission of information about Directory Persons to the Register 

• references in the FCA rules to the statutory deadline for assessing Certified Persons as fit and proper following agreement with the Treasury

The purpose of the extension is to give firms under pressure from the COVID-19 crisis, time to fully and properly implement the Certification Regime and train staff in the Conduct Rules.

It is important to note that the FCA considers that most firms will be able to meet the original deadline of 9 December 2020 and it encourages them to do so.  The Senior Managers Regime is already in force and Senior Managers remain fully accountable for their areas of responsibility during and after the pandemic. The Conduct Rules also continue to apply for Senior Managers and Certified staff.

The FCA has made it clear that regardless of the uncertainty around the pandemic crisis, it considers that this extension should be sufficient for firms to achieve implementation of the SMCR and a further extension will not be made. Accordingly, firms should not delay implementation plans, but rather seek to progress these so that they can be sure that the 31 March 2021 deadline can be met. Additional planning may be required to effect the requirements (e.g. training) when many staff are working remotely.