Launching an investment business in 2021? Don’t miss out on a Christmas present from the FCA

17 July 2020 | Michael Chambers

We now know that the implementation date for the new investment firms prudential regime (IFPR) will be 26 June 2021. For many types of firm, the new regime will increase required levels of regulatory capital significantly.

In certain circumstances, there may be a silver lining. Indeed, for some firms planning to launch next year, there is – for a limited period – a significant funding advantage available. Now that the implementation date has been settled, we expect (based on the AIFMD precedent) that the FCA will require applications submitted after a cut off date close to Christmas 2020 to reflect capital requirements calculated in accordance with the new regime, with the FCA’s rationale being its statutory obligation to assess completed applications for authorisation within 6 months. 

The cut-off point will be most pertinent to investment professionals and UK-inbound firms considering setting up an “advisor-arranger” – such businesses have a regulatory capital requirement of only €50,000 under the current regime, which will increase under the IFPR to the higher of the value of one quarter of annual overheads or 0.02% of assets advised, subject to a floor of €75,000.[1]

Advisor-arrangers applying for authorisation before the cut-off will benefit from a 5-year window to increase their regulatory capital to the level required by the IFPR. For similar firms missing the cut-off, the applicable regulatory capital requirement from day one of being authorised will be the  full IFPR amount.

Taking an example of a typical start-up structured as an LLP with three partners and a small team at authorisation and assuming some growth in the first five years of authorisation[2], the difference in capital requirement, depending on whether the cut-off is missed or not, is stark.

Graph 2

[1] Other firm types, even those intending to run lean business models, face a similar incentive to apply for authorisation before the cut-off date if they conduct significant volumes of MiFID business, for example managing segregated accounts or managing funds on a delegated basis.

[2] Starting with annual fixed overheads typical of such a size team setting up in an office in Mayfair, we have assumed growth over the 5 year period to headcount and floorspace costs as well as other administrative expenses.

For businesses in the start-up phase, the lower funding costs for the business that the blue line demonstrates will be an extremely valuable saving, and businesses considering becoming FCA-authorised as an advisor-arranger in 2021 are encouraged to submit their application early.

For more information on the IFPR, including new analysis as regulators release updates, visit our News and Resources page and follow us on LinkedIn.

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