In June, the Central Bank of Ireland (Central Bank) published the first edition of its Intermediary Times newsletter for 2022 (Newsletter). The Newsletter highlights recent regulatory developments and issues of concern for all retail intermediaries, including (re)insurance intermediaries (Intermediaries). This article provides a short summary of four key takeaways for Intermediaries.
1. New Authorisations – Fitness and Probity Assessment
In the context of new authorisations of Intermediaries, the Central Bank laments that it increasingly finds that some candidates for Pre-Approval Controlled Functions (PCFs) proposed by applicant firms cannot demonstrate how they meet the Central Bank’s Fitness and Probity Standards. The Central Bank’s Authorisations Team has provided feedback on common issues that arise, and sets out some useful general points for applicant firms.
The two most common issues identified with PCF candidates are:
- not meeting the requirements of the Minimum Competency Code 2017 (MCC); and/or
- not meeting certain aspects of the Fitness and Probity Standards.
The Central Bank points out that a common misconception is that the MCC only applies to persons providing advice to consumers; however, there are other circumstances in which the MCC applies. It is also worth noting that the Central Bank emphasises the importance of practical experience in relevant financial services and being MCC compliant.
It is welcome that the Central Bank indicates that it will be trialling engagement with prospective applicants for Intermediary Authorisation by webinar in the coming months to give tips on completing an application and highlighting some common errors.
2. Changes to PCF Lists
Continuing its focus on the Fitness and Probity theme, the Central Bank highlights the new Fitness & Probity Regulations, in effect from 5 April 2022, that create new PCF roles and amend existing ones. Intermediaries must review their compliance records to ensure that these changes to the PCF regime are incorporated. The main changes relevant to Intermediaries are as follows:
- PCF-2 PCF-2 is split into: PCF-2A Non-Executive Directors and PCF-2B Independent Non-Executive
- PCF-3, PCF-4, PCF-5, PCF-6, PCF-7 PCF-3 to PCF-7 renamed ‘Chairman’ to ‘Chair’
- PCF-15 PCF-15 (Head of Compliance with responsibility for AML and CFT) removed
- PCF-16 PCF-16 (branch manager in other EEA countries) expanded to include branch managers in non-EEA countries
- PCF-52 New PCF-52 (Head of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Compliance) introduced
3. Use of Exempt Ancillary Insurance Intermediaries in the Insurance Sector
The Central Banks also reports on its recent Exempt Ancillary Insurance Intermediaries (EAIIs) review. It explains that the review focused on understanding the extent to which EAIIs are used in the distribution of insurance products in the Irish market and the degree of oversight that insurers and intermediaries subject them to, and whether legislative requirements are met. The Central Bank observed that the main product lines distributed via the EAII channel are travel insurance, motor products, gadget, and accidental damage insurance. Arising from its review, the Central Bank highlights a number of areas where oversight of EAIIs should be improved, including:
- Remuneration arrangements between firms and EAIIs;
- Recording of reasons for cancellation of policies;
- Inadequate procedures.
4. Consumer Protection Outlook Report 2022
The Central Bank encourages all Intermediaries to consider the recent Consumer Protection Outlook Report 2022 (CPOR), which it published in March. The CPOR identifies the main cross-sectoral risks facing consumers of financial services and it urges Intermediaries to take specific action to identify, mitigate and manage these risks in their businesses. The risks identified are:
- Poor business practices and weak business processes;
- Ineffective disclosures to consumers;
- The changing operational landscape;
- Technology-driven risks to consumer protection;
- The impact of shifting business models and innovation.
If you would like to discuss any of the above topics, please contact a member of the Insurance Department or your usual William Fry contact.
Contributed by India Delaney & Catherine Carrigy