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5 October 2022

The clock is ticking. Your Consumer Duty plan must be complete by October 31.

When the FCA published its policy statement in July, the regulator gave firms a full 12 months to implement the changes required to comply with the new legislation. You were, however, expected to create an action plan by the end of this month, which needs signing off by your board or equivalent managing body.

Requesting a plan is the regulator’s attempt to ensure you do not waste time and reduce the risk of firms leaving the changes until the last minute. It is proving to be a novel concept and we are finding some clients struggling to articulate what their plan will look like, whilst others are concerned theirs don’t go far enough.

It is difficult to give an overview of what your plan should look like, as it will be different in every case. Factors such as your size and the complexity of the work undertaken need to be considered. Instead, we have highlighted the important questions you should be asking of your firm in the run up to the deadline:

When does your board or management body meet?

The FCA not only wants firms to design and develop a plan for implementing Consumer Duty, but also to secure buy-in from senior management, so they need to be signing it off at their next meeting.

Board meetings are the ideal opportunity to formalise your plan and ratify it within the minutes, so start thinking about the following issues now:

  • Is your next board meeting scheduled before the deadline?
  • Will your draft plan be ready by then?
  • Will an ad hoc meeting be necessary to sign off the plan?
  • Will you need time after the meeting to make changes following feedback from the board?

Be mindful that it takes time to prepare a detailed plan of this nature and undertake the approval process. We strongly recommend building in a contingency period, so the board has time to consider your proposals and you can action any changes.

Will I need to implement the plan before July next year?

Whilst the deadline for implementation of Consumer Duty is July 2023, if your firm is a manufacturer, you will need to be in a position to share key information with distributors of your product or service by April. This will include the outcome of any value assessments, confirmation of target markets and evidence of your product governance.

Will my plan need to change?

Your plan does not need to be set in stone by the end of this month. Most firms will not have enough time to conduct gap analysis or a benchmarking exercise before the deadline. Likewise, if you are undergoing organisational changes, it may need to adapt and expand as the process develops.

If you make alterations to your plan, they should be reported to your board or management committee as part of the implementation process. Material consideration should also be given to seeking further board sign-off.

Will the FCA be scrutinising my plan in the near future?

Whilst you won’t need to make a mandatory disclosure by the end of this month, the regulator has reserved the right to request a copy of your plan during its normal interactions.

For example, if you will be contacting the FCA regards new firm permissions, SMF applications, etc, your plan will be examined too. The regulator has confirmed that applications will not be approved if you are unable to demonstrate you are addressing Consumer Duty.

How do I update management on the implementation process?

Once your plan is signed off, your board or equivalent will need to oversee the implementation to ensure the firm remains on track and that work to review and improve your products and services is sufficient to meet Consumer Duty standards.

Start thinking about what this continued oversight will look like and how regular updates will be communicated.

At the end of the implementation period, your board must be assured the firm is complying with its regulatory obligations. Without regular updates, it would be difficult to identify potential gaps or weaknesses and take remedial action. If management is not confident in the work being undertaken or it is not completed by July, the FCA must be alerted.

Can I be ready before the July deadline?

Whilst the FCA expects all firms to take some action, this will be proportional and you may find you don’t need to make any significant changes to meet the Consumer Duty standards. If this is the case, you may not need the full implementation period to ensure you are compliant. That said, the earlier you complete the process, the better the outcomes will be for consumers.

We are happy to help you prepare for the new Consumer Duty regulations. We have developed a template for an implementation plan and a benchmarking gap analysis tool you can access, if required. For more information, contact us on (0161) 521 8641 or email:

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