Financial Conduct Authority – Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out if my organisation is regulated by the FCA?

All AdviceUK members that were covered by our Group Debt Licence with the OFT and who completed and returned their FCA authorisation information form to AdviceUK by 26 March 2014 will have been automatically transferred to FCA regulation on 1 April 2014. This is what the FCA described as ‘grandfathering’. AdviceUK members providing debt advice who had their own Consumer Credit Licence with the OFT were required to apply directly to the FCA for what is known as ‘interim permissions’. You can find out if your organisation is authorised by the FCA by searching the FCA register. (Please note that the FSA website address is not an error. This is because the register includes firms regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority as well as those regulated by the FCA.) Searching the register will also enable you to find your FCA authorisation number. We understand that the FCA will not be advising you separately of your authorisation number so you will need to do a search to find it.

Will my organisation get a certificate from the Financial Conduct Authority confirming that we are authorised?

No. The FCA does not issue certificates. You can get your authorisation number by looking up your entry on the FCA register – see the separate FAQ “How do I find out if my organisation is regulated by the FCA?” above for details on how to do this.

Should my organisation say that we are authorised by the FCA on our letterheads and website?

Yes. We recommend that you use the following form of words: “Authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Authorisation number [insert number].”

My organisation is not regulated by the FCA. How do I apply for authorisation?

You will need to apply directly to the FCA for authorisation using its online system. Please note that you will need to register as a new user before you can apply. Because of the large number of firms applying for authorisation, we understand that it may take up to six months for your organisation to be authorised. However, the FCA has said that it will try and prioritise applications from charities. Please remember that it is a criminal offence to give debt advice before your organisation is authorised.

I’ve received a letter about registering for CONNECT and GABRIEL. What are they and do I need to register for both of them?

CONNECT is the IT system that the FCA uses for online applications for authorisation. It is also the system that you will need to use if you want to change your details (e.g. you have moved to a new address) or vary your permissions (e.g. you intend to engage in another regulated activity). GABRIEL is the IT system that the FCA uses for online reporting. All authorised firms (including not for profit organisations with limited permissions) must submit an annual return within 10 months of their accounting reference date (i.e. financial year end).

If you are an AdviceUK member who is authorised by the FCA you will therefore need to register for both CONNECT and GABRIEL. For guidance on how to complete your FCA annual return using GABRIEL please go the FCA Resources page in the For Members area of our website.

My organisation was covered by AdviceUK’s Group Debt Licence. Do I still need to apply to the FCA?

Yes. The OFT ceased to exist after 31 March 2014 and AdviceUK’s Group Debt Licence expired on that date.

Does giving budgeting advice require FCA authorisation?

Money management and budgeting advice do not fall within the definition of debt advice and do not therefore require authorisation. The FCA has published perimeter guidance on debt counselling. If your activities fall within the perimeter then you must be authorised. The FCA has a Perimeter Enquiries Team who can provide general assistance and guidance about the scope of FCA regulation. Enquiries of this kind may be made either to the Consumer Contact Centre (email ccc@fca.org.uk or call 0800 111 6768) or to the Perimeter Enquiries Team (email authorisationenquiries@fca.org.uk).