On Wednesday 17th June, 2020, Julie Pardy, Director of Regulation & Market Engagement (Worksmart) joined Employment Partners Marian Bloodworth and David Williams from Kemp Little LLP for an in-depth look at the current HR implications for firms around Covid-19 and the on-going requirements of the SM&CR regime.
The Webinar was intended to support senior professionals in HR and Risk & Compliance roles who are implementing elements of SM&CR. The webinar also wanted to look at how Covid-19 is affecting webinar attendee’s teams and discuss how they should respond to any of the proposed regulatory relaxations.
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To ensure that the topics covered were educational and relevant, attendees were asked to complete a series of polling questions:
1) Do you think home working is likely to contribute to an increase in conduct related issues for firms?
Nearly 60% of attendees responded with ‘yes’, “Home working is likely to increase the risk of conduct related issues,” and here’s why. There was concern around how secure working from home is and if this would contribute to conduct problems being identified later on. There was also an interesting debate around distractions and how by being physically apart means that management believe they can’t keep a close eye on teams. It was also discussed that individuals working from home in the current situation are reliant on their own self-motivation and being at home can mean the likes of social media, family and/or childcare can cause distractions which are environmentally led rather than necessarily by a disengaged worker.
However, is it more about managers adapting their behaviours and controls so they do have effective oversight of individuals in different circumstances? And if this is the case, the question remains how employers can best support employees through this.
2) Who is responsible for ensuring that training and competency needs are being met?
The options for this question were:
- Individuals – particularly SMF’s & Certified staff
- The Firm – It controls what is on offer by way of training
The response to this question was encouraging as the majority answered option three, ‘both’.
Even though the firm controls what training is on offer, there was very strong agreement around the fact that each employee needs to take responsibility for asking for the training that they want and need. For those individuals who are currently on furlough, there is no reason for them not to undertake relevant personal development activities to help maintain their competency as the government has made it clear that this is an acceptable activity whilst furloughed.
3) Does SM&CR as a regulatory regime become more or less important in a pandemic?
The polling results show that there was a fairly even split between those voting ‘of equal importance’ and ‘more important’. As you know, SM&CR has been introduced to improve corporate governance and streamline decision making, processes and risk management. The polling response is, perhaps, as expected. Forward thinking Firms are using this regulatory tool to generate benefits for them. For example, prior to implementing Certification, many firms are taking the opportunity enhance their performance appraisals and approach to the Training & Competence rules. However, other Firms are finding that other challenges are competing with, perhaps even overtaking, SM&CR as the pandemic skews operating models.
4) Within your organisation have any of your Senior Managers or Certified staff been furloughed?
It was really encouraging to see that very few people who are Senior Managers or are captured by Certification had been furloughed. Considering there were over 100 firms represented on the webinar, this is a positive statistic for the industry. For us, it demonstrates the seriousness the industry is taking SM&CR despite the current challenges.
As the FCA continue to provide guidance and feedback to solo regulated firms on the importance of implementing and embedding all elements of the SM&CR regime effectively, the webinar provided an interesting insight into how firms are responding. In general, despite the tough challenges posed by Covid-19, it was encouraging to see the sustained focus on SM&CR. This is vital because, despite some relaxations of the new rules offered by the regulator, the emphasis is clear that SM&CR is here and remains a cornerstone price of regulation, pandemic or no pandemic!
And on that note, that is where Accord comes in. Accord is Worksmart’s multi award-winning SM&CR solution that not only manages the component parts of the Senior Managers Regime, but also provides a range of intuitive, dynamic tools for wider employee competence management within Firms.
If you would like to find out more about our software Accord and how it can help your senior managers stay compliant, please;
Your interaction with our webinars encourages us to work harder to provide you with more regulatory news and resources. Your honesty during the polls gives us fantastic insight into what it’s like on the ground for those subject to the regime, so thank you. We look forward to welcoming more individuals onto our next webinar which can be found in the Events section of our website.