“Skilled Person” reviews under section 166 of FSMA have become a major feature of the financial services regulatory landscape in recent years. FCA figures show that 51 reports were commissioned in 2016 alone, up from 47 in 2015. Under FSMA the regulators have wide powers to require financial services firms to commission skilled person reports into almost any aspect of the firm’s business.

Following a thorough tender process Squire Patton Boggs has been appointed as one of only three law firms on the regulators’ panel of organisations approved to conduct skilled person reviews on financial crime issues (Lot E of the panel). We have demonstrated to the FCA that we have the skills, experience and expertise to conduct reviews on all aspects of financial crime including market abuse, anti-money laundering, anti-bribery and corruption, third party payments, market manipulation, insider trading, and governance of these areas. The revised skilled person panel went live on 1 April 2017, and will run for four years.

Firms can sometimes view the appointment of a skilled person as a negative development and potentially a stepping stone into the FCA enforcement process. But our general experience is that if proactively managed (both by the firm, its advisers, and the skilled person) a s.166 review can be a positive exercise in identifying and resolving areas for improvement in a collaborative way with FCA supervisors. Where it is approached in the right way, enforcement action following on from a skilled person report is actually much rarer than firms might think.

We are looking forward to working with the regulators and firms involved in skilled person reviews during the life of the panel. If you are facing a s.166 skilled person review or would like to discuss the panel and how we can help clients in a regulatory process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.