Responsibilities are Key
The requirements and responsibilities placed upon Key Individuals (KI's) by the FAIS Act are numerous and it is important to note that although they can delegate some of their functions (for instance, compliance) the ultimate responsibility lies with the KI from the regulator's point of view.
The responsibilities of KI's can be divided into two main pillars:
· Maintaining the personal character qualities of honesty and integrity; and
· Competence and operational ability.
We'll look at these two pillars separately below. This is just a short overview but it will give you a good indication of where the battle lines are drawn.
Honesty & Integrity
According to the General Code of Conduct, to assess whether a FAIS KI complies with the requirement of honesty and integrity, the Registrar may refer to any information brought to its attention. Thus, any dishonesty or lapses of integrity that are material can be taken into consideration. Without detracting from the broad statement above, any of the following items also constitutes prima facie (on first encounter) evidence that a KI is no longer compliant with the honesty and integrity requirements if he/she:
(a) has been found guilty in any criminal proceedings or liable in any civil proceedings by a court of law (whether in the Republic or elsewhere) of having acted fraudulently, dishonestly, unprofessionally, dishonourably or in breach of a fiduciary duty;
(b) has been found guilty by any statutory professional body or voluntary professional body (whether in the Republic or elsewhere) recognised by the Board, of an act of dishonesty, negligence, incompetence or mismanagement, sufficiently serious to impugn the honesty and integrity of the Financial Services Provider (FSP), KI or representative;
(c) has been denied membership of anybody referred to in subparagraph (b) on account of an act of dishonesty, negligence, incompetence or mismanagement, sufficiently serious to impugn the honesty and integrity of the KI;
(i) been found guilty by any regulatory or supervisory body (whether in the Republic or elsewhere), recognised by the Board; or
(ii) had its authorisation to carry on business refused, suspended or withdrawn by any such body,
on account of an act of dishonesty, negligence, incompetence or mismanagement sufficiently serious to impugn the honesty and integrity of the KI;
(e) has had any license granted to the financial services provider by any regulatory or supervisory body referred to in subparagraph (d) suspended or withdrawn by such body on account of an act of dishonesty, negligence, incompetence or mismanagement, sufficiently serious to impugn the honesty and integrity of the KI; or
(f) has at any time been disqualified or prohibited by any court of law (whether in the Republic or elsewhere) from taking part in the management of any company or other statutorily created, recognised or regulated body, irrespective whether such disqualification has since been lifted or not.
Furthermore, any material non-compliance with the Act, in a manner which is dishonest and negatively affects the KI's honesty and integrity can also be taken into account.
For example: When there is a conflict of interest prevalent, the KI has an obligation to mitigate and avoid the conflict of interest. If the conflict is not mitigated or avoided it would constitute non-compliance with, among others, section 3(1) b and possibly section 3A(1)(b) of the General Code of Conduct.
The result of an honesty and integrity transgression is seen as serious by the Registrar of Financial Services Providers. It could lead to debarment of any KI's and Representatives involved and a withdrawal of the FSP licence in some cases. In less serious cases of where breach of any section of the Act is prevalent a penalty may be imposed.
Competence and Operational Ability
Although it might be misleading, Competence, when referred to in the Act, does not refer to a person's actual ability to conduct work. It rather refers to the qualification and experience requirements of the KI's as put in place by the FAIS Act and its subsidiary fit and proper regulations.
Operational ability refers to the KI, in respect of his or her management and oversight of an FSP. The KI must have, and be able to maintain, the operational ability to fulfil the responsibilities imposed by the Act on FSPs, specifically the oversight of financial services (regarding of advice and intermediary services) provided by the FSP.
This is quite a broad responsibility in that it effectively states that the KI is ultimately responsible for the oversight of all the rendering of financial services and the operations ancillary thereto. The KI must be able to illustrate that he/she can do this. This relates to all items in the Act, Rules, Codes of Conduct and Determinations. Thus any material non-compliance of the Act can also be included. For example: Where an FSP does not have the necessary indemnity insurance in place as required by section (7) of Part VIII of the Determination of Fit and Proper Requirements.
The result of a lack of operational ability is that the FSP license may be withdrawn in serious cases and a penalty may be imposed in less serious cases. So think carefully when accepting a KI appointment. And for those KI's that have been doing it for a long time make sure you cover all of the bases.
by: Horizon Compliance team