Regular regulatory reporting
One of the requirements of being an authorised and regulated financial services firm in the UK is regular reporting to the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
For Informed Choice, and other IFA firms, this takes the form of a half-yearly Retail Mediation Activities Return, or RMAR.
At the end of our company year on 31st July and half way through our company year on 31st January, we have a deadline of several weeks to provide comprehensive financial and activity data to the FSA through their online system. The FSA use a system called GABRIEL (GAthering Better Regulatory Information ELectronically) to collect, validate and store this data.
This regular schedule of detailed reporting does a couple of things.
Firstly, it provides lots of information to the FSA so they can monitor the activity of individual firms without having to conduct regular inspections. It means they can quickly identify whether firms are receiving complaints from their clients or selling a particularly high level of a certain type of investment.
Secondly, it enables the regulator to ensure that the firms it regulates are financially robust. Our accountant constructs our published accounts in time for this end of year return and we tell the FSA about our balance sheet position as well as our income and expenditure for the past year.
For the half-yearly return, we have our accountant produce an interim set of accounts so we are providing accurate data to the FSA.
Whilst we might occasionally grumble about the day or two every six months it takes for us to collate this data and submit our returns, for consumers it does mean they can be confident regulated firms are regularly monitored by the FSA.
As a business, it also prompts us to review our financial progress in detail once every six months, so we can see in black and white what progress we are making towards our strategic plans.