Senior managers and certification regime

The SMCRs have been in force since 7 March 2016 with the overall aim is to improve accountability for individuals working in financial services. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) require firms to map out the roles of their senior managers and to allocate responsibilities to them so as to make them individually accountable.

Both individuals and firms in the financial sector are significantly affected by the regime. All involved need a thorough understanding of the new regime.


The Senior Managers Regime applies to all individuals exercising a senior management function (SMF). In many cases, non-executive directors will also be covered, for example if they chair any committee directly relevant to a firm’s safety or soundness.

Senior managers need to examine carefully the scope of the responsibilities allocated to them by the firm and to refuse to accept anything that is outside their actual responsibility or expertise. Where a presumption of responsibility was initially proposed, the Government has instead decided to introduce a statutory duty on senior managers to take reasonable steps to prevent regulatory breaches in their areas of responsibility – the so-called “duty of responsibility”. They also face criminal liability if they recklessly make a decision (or fail to prevent a decision) that leads to the failure of a bank.

Mid-level employees are subject to the Certification Regime under which it is the responsibility of their firm to certify that they are fit and proper on an on-going basis. An assessment by the firm that an individual is not fit and proper could have very serious implications for the individual from an employment and regulatory perspective.

The new conduct rules will be applicable to a much greater number of individuals working in financial services than under the current regime and are broader in scope. 


Financial organisations

Firms should consider the the allocation of responsibilities amongst senior managers and assess the areas of responsibility falling within the certification process.

It is important that firms fairly assess the responsibilities of their employees and that the exact extent of their remit is acknowledged and clearly defined so that an individual is not allocated responsibilities outside the scope of their duties, either in their individual statement of responsibility or the firm’s overall responsibilities map. 

Together these documents should make clear who is responsible for what, and ensure individual accountability.

The FCA is monitoring carefully how firms implement the new regime and it will ultimately impact on their regulatory risk in the future. Support functions such as HR and IT departments, as well as Compliance and Risk must address legal and operational issues including ensuring that appropriate policies and training are in place.

Firms need to identify individuals within the scope of the regime and ensure their employment documentation, governance structure and resources are appropriate.


How we can help

With a financial services team drawn from our regulatory, commercial, employment and criminal departments we are able to assess holistically the needs of our clients.

We have worked with a number of regulated firms on regulatory issues and are familiar with working with the FCA. We are able to assist with the drafting of relevant documents, including individual statements of responsibility and the firm's overall responsibilities map. We are here to help with training needs and the amendment of policy materials.

For individuals we can advise on how to negotiate the ambit of their responsibilities, what the regime requires in terms of the discharge of their duties and conduct, and what they can do to protect themselves, particularly if they have grounds for concern about their personal position and potential exposure.

We regularly deal with financial regulators and act for clients in cases involving disciplinary and enforcement action.

SMCR -  Key dates (2015-2018)

  • 15 October 2015: Bank of England Financial Services Bill – introduced duty of responsibility
  • Winter 2015: Final Rules on incoming branches of overseas firms
  • 7 December 2015:  Consultation on mandatory form for regulatory references closes
  • 1 January 2016: Applications for Significant Influence Function (SIF) candidates who will be taking up their post after new regime
  • 8 February 2016:  Final deadline to submit responsibilities maps and statements of responsibilities
  • 8 February 2016:  Deadline to submit grandfathering notifications
  • 7 March 2016: Reforms to the Senior Managers and Certification Regime come into effect
  • 7 March 2016: All Certified staff must be identified. Conduct rules apply from this date
  • 7 March 2016: New offence relating to a decision causing a financial institution to fail in force
  • 7 March 2016:  Appointment of a Whistleblowers’ Champion (Senior Manager)
  • 7 September 2016: Scope of Responsibilities documents for all SIF holders to be available for FCA review, or earlier if the firm is otherwise required to produce one
  • 7 September 2016: Deadline to comply with package of measures on whistleblowing
  • End October 2017: First annual submission for notifying breaches of the Conduct Rules of staff within the SMR or Certification Regime
  • 7 March 2017: Firms’ deadline for issuing certificates for individuals under the Certification Regime
  • 7 March 2017: Application of Conduct Rules to staff who are not within the SMR or Certification Regime
  • July 2017: Consultation on the extension of the SMR and Certification Regime to all FSMA authorised firms.
  • End October 2017: First annual submission notifying breaches of the Conduct Rules including staff who are not within the SMR or Certification Regime
  • Summer 2018: FCA Policy Statement on Extension of the SMR and Certification Regime to all FSMA authorised firms.


Kingsley Napley LLP stands out for its experience acting for senior executives in contentious matters"

Legal 500 UK

Latest blogs & news

Your employment rights if your Russia-related job is being cut

In recent weeks, we have all been witness to the significant consequences of Vladamir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – on a human and business level. Many financial institutions have shut-down their offices in Moscow with staff being let go or transferred, and there has also been a ripple effect over here in the City with an impact on banking jobs in London.

Understanding the benefits of flexible working

Moira Campbell and Jess Rice explain how employers can use flexibility as a way to attract and retain talent and promote workplace inclusivity.

Coronavirus: Living with Covid – the implications for employers

The government made its long-awaited Freedom Day announcement on Monday 21 February 2022 and later the same day the Cabinet Office published its paper Living with Covid. As a result, the legal landscape for employers and employees changed significantly on 24 February 2022. The legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test was removed. Self-isolation support payments went too. From 24 March, the special provisions for the payment of statutory sick pay for people with Covid-19 will be removed. So is this all good news for employers? Will this help those who have been charged with managing their workplaces through what remains of the pandemic? Does it mean freedom for them, or something less?

LLP Partners – Secure in the Equity?

The default retirement age of 65 for employees is now only a distant memory, but mandatory retirement ages for LLP members remain common in professional services firms. In practice this can result in surprising and harsh outcomes.

Removing vaccination as a condition of employment

Health secretary Sajid Javid has announced that the government will launch a consultation on removing vaccination as a condition of employment in health and all social care settings. The regulations requiring front line health workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 (Coronavirus) as a condition of employment were due to come into force on 1 April 2022, which meant that unvaccinated staff had until 3 February 2022 to receive their first dose so that they could be fully vaccinated by April.

Whistleblowing in the UK: In Summary

UK law has granted protection for those who raise concerns of potential wrongdoing in the workplace (whistleblowers) since 1999 through the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

Recent tribunal cases involving Covid-19

Nick Ralph looks in detail at recent cases that have stemmed from the pandemic, including a refusal to attend work due to fear of contracting the virus.

Covid vaccination and the workplace – what you need to know

One of the most topical issues regarding Covid-19 is that of vaccination and whether it should be mandatory. 

Stories regarding big employers such as Citibank in the US mandating vaccination as a condition of employment (“no jab, no job”), the experience of great sports personalities such as Novak Djokovic and the decision of the Supreme Court in the US last week regarding laws mandating vaccination in the private sector, have all brought this issue into the spotlight.

So what is the legal position in the UK?  

How HR should prepare for a workplace investigation

Richard Fox and Clodagh Hogan explain the questions people professionals should ask prior to conducting an inquiry into a dispute between employees

Investigations being conducted into workplace disputes have increased recently, possibly partly due to the rise in the number of sexual misconduct in the workplace allegations since the advent of the #MeToo movement.

Planning is key to workplace investigations and, if you are considering carrying out an investigation, ask yourself the following questions at the outset:

Flexible working – fit for firms?

Much has been said about the proposed changes to the flexible working regime announced by the Government in its Consultation Paper on 23 September 2021.

Omicron is here. What does that mean for employers?

It is the cliché that keeps on giving.  Uncertainty remains the only certainty in this world of coronavirus and all its mutations.

At the time of writing, the number of cases in the UK of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron (technically, the B.1.1.529 variant), had reached 32.  This is likely to increase given the current view among scientists that Omicron may be more infectious than the existing Delta variant of coronavirus and vaccinations less effective against it.

How businesses can avoid misusing NDAs

Richard Fox and Georgia Roberts explain why employers dealing with sexual misconduct claims should tread carefully when requiring an NDA to be included in a settlement agreement

Improving diversity at the top

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently launched a consultation on proposed amendments to its Listing Rules aimed at improving diversity and inclusion on company boards and executive committees. In particular, they are seeking feedback on proposals to require listed companies to publicly disclose annually whether they meet specific board diversity targets, including in relation to ethnicity, and to publish the composition of their boards and most senior level of executive management. To understand why such proposals are necessary, it is important to consider the current state of ethnic minority representation in UK leadership, why diversity at senior levels is so vitally important and what steps can employers take to improve diversity.

The UK’s Data Protection Reform Consultation – Good News for Employers?

On 10 September 2021 the UK Government launched a Consultation on proposed changes to data protection law with the aim to “create a more pro-growth and pro-innovation data regime, whilst maintaining the UK’s world-leading data protection standards”. The proposals are designed to build on the UK’s existing data protection regime (contained in the General Data Protection Regulation (as it applies in the UK post-Brexit) (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018).

The Home Office’s new “early ILR concession”

Progressive developments in immigration law have become a rare phenomenon, so the Home Office’s new policy – which halves the route to settlement for certain young people who have resided in the UK for more than half of their lives – is welcome news.

BEIS White Paper on Audit Reform: Will Kwarteng's reforms really unchain entrepreneurs?

In 2012, as a recently elected MP, Kwasi Kwarteng co-authored “Britannia Unchained: Global Lessons for Growth and Properity”, a political pamphlet which championed risk-taking and innovation in the UK economy, and which ever since has led some to label him a fervent Brexiteer. Appointed as the Business Secretary in January 2021, only a few months later his department (BEIS) published one of the longest and most ambitious government White Papers in recent years.

Barder: Exceptional and rare

Cate Maguire looks at how the Barder principle has been applied in cases involving 'known unknowns'

World Menopause Day - time to break the taboo!

World Menopause Day was held on 18 October 2021. It is an opportunity to break the stigma and taboo that still exists around menopause and to encourage open dialogue about what is a natural and very significant transition in a woman’s life.

Redundancy and negotiating an exit package during the pandemic

Coronavirus is having a serious impact on businesses and the global economy. Sadly, many businesses have been impacted to the extent that they have or will have to put cost-cutting measures in place. For some individuals this will result in their role being put at risk of redundancy.

Preparation for Public Inquiries - Webinar Summary

In light of the announcement that an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic will begin in spring 2022, Kingsley Napley hosted a webinar last week on the theme of Preparing for Public Inquiries in conjunction with Blackstone Chambers and FTI Consulting. For anyone who missed this event, a recording is available here (LINK) and we have also prepared the summary below.  

Senior managers and certification regime Insights

View all


Getting a senior job with a boutique firm in London is about to become complicated

What have we learned from the Senior Managers and Certification Regime?

FCA Business Plan 2019-20: A reflection of recent enforcement action

How to write a reference – Hincks v Sense Network Ltd

Transforming culture in financial services – keeping up with the debate

FCA proposes extension of senior managers regime

The extension of the Senior Managers and Certification Regime

Running the Marathon – lessons for professional and financial services partnerships

FCA and PRA regulatory references - what do the new rules mean in practice?

The Senior Managers and Certification Regime: the latest

FCA’s use of private warnings under scrutiny

Senior Managers Regime – the FCA predicts more enforcement litigation in the new regime

Next phase of the new accountability regime for UK financial services

Privacy by design to safety by default: A process improvement approach to data protection

FCA 2016-17: Culture and Governance take centre stage but AML and financial crime remain key priorities

Strengthening accountability in banking: Senior Managers and Certification Regime now in force

Senior Managers Regime: first stage now in force

Are you ready for the Senior Managers Regime?

Senior Managers and Certification Regime: rule changes required

Senior Managers and Certification Regime - FCA focuses on enforcement and DEPP

Successful challenge to FCA prohibition order

Whistleblowing in banks and insurers: FCA and PRA confirmation of their new rules

Holding individuals to account in financial services - unexpected shift in burden of proof

European regulation of insider dealing and market manipulation: build up to the new market abuse regime from 2016

Regulatory references in the financial services industry – PRA & FCA consultation

New whistleblowing rules from FCA

FCA flexes competition muscles

FCA reviews management of financial benchmarks

Annual Report for Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) - international cooperation, market abuse, convictions, senior managers regime, whistleblowing and a historic year for fines

FCA issue rules and guidance on bankers remuneration and clawback obligations

Financial professionals: don’t bank on your bonus

Fraudsters on the inside

Deutsche Bank £227m fine highlights the risks of signing attestations - for individuals and financial institutions

Banking Regulation: Senior Managers and Certification Regime – timetable announced plus extension to include UK branches of foreign institutions

Senior Managers Regime: Tougher regulation of senior bankers and non-executive directors (NEDs) confirmed

Close Load more

Skip to content Home About Us Insights Services Contact Accessibility