If you want to apply for Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) support, find out how to submit your application, what happens next in the process and what they do with your information.
If you want to apply for Innovation Pathways support, you’ll need to complete the FCA’s online application form. This form is designed to help them understand your innovation so they can decide whether they can support you.
If you want to test your business model in the live market with real consumers, you should consider applying to the Regulatory Sandbox.
Submitting your application
You can only submit fully completed applications via the web form. Please note that your answers won’t be saved if you leave the form, so it’s important that you’re prepared before starting your application.
You can read this draft application form to help you prepare. This includes a copy of key questions you’ll be asked as part of your application, as well as some guidance to help you answer the questions.
Once you’ve submitted your application form, the FCA will review it and get back to you within 4 weeks, letting you know whether you’ve been successful.
Completing your application
To maximise your chances of making a successful application, make sure you’ve read the guidance before submitting your form.
- The more information you can provide, the easier the assessment becomes for them. The FCA understand that your proposal may be under development and that you may not have a finished model at the time of applying, but please respond to each question in as much detail as you can.
- Please explain how you meet each criteria individually. You must meet all the criteria to qualify for FCA support.
- Consider providing supporting documentation if you have it. For example, if you’ve already completed a pitch deck, a white paper, or a business plan, then please feel free to include it.
- Explain how your proposal is different to other businesses in the same sector. Your business may be innovative, but it’s unlikely to be completely unique. Help the FCA understand why it’s innovative by comparing yourself to other services that your customers might use.
- Explain why and how it’s better than existing services. Your business will need to benefit consumers and you’ll need to be able to explain how. Is it cheaper, faster, or more secure?
- Describe how it works as a business. The FCA need to understand how your proposal will work in terms of how it makes money, who your customers will be, and how it will be viable.
- Be clear on what you want from the FCA. The regulator can’t help with vague questions, like ‘please help us meet the rules’. You should carefully explain what you need help with.
- You don’t need the services of a lawyer or compliance consultant before applying for our support. However, if you’ve spoken to a lawyer, it might be helpful to include any legal advice you’ve received (if you can share it). You should consider taking on a compliance consultant before applying for FCA authorisation.
A fully completed application form should give the FCA enough information to make a decision. Attaching a pitch deck to your form and answering ‘see attachment’ to each question usually doesn’t. If there is missing information from your application, they’ll get in touch to ask for the details they need.
What happens after you submit your application
- You’ll receive an acknowledgement email within 7 days of the FCA receiving your application.
- A case manager will assess the application against our eligibility criteria, getting input from expert FCA stakeholders where necessary.
- Your firm’s request will be reviewed and a decision will be made by a panel of experts.
- You’ll be told the panel’s decision approximately 4 weeks after submitting your request. Should you be unsuccessful, the FCA will tell you which criteria you didn’t meet.
- If successful, you’ll receive an acceptance email and Information Sharing Consent form. An introductory call will be offered.
The type and level of support you need will be determined by your case manager at the initial meeting.
The FCA will provide support for 6 months. If you still need support after 6 months, you will need to reapply. Support can be extended on a 3-month incremental basis at our discretion. Any additional requests for support will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must continue to meet the eligibility criteria.
Sign up for application support
The FCA hold regular support sessions designed to help you complete their application form. The FCA can’t use these sessions to discuss your innovation or test, or to answer regulatory questions.
To sign up for support with your application, email Innovation Pathways application support.
The FCA will keep your proposal confidential and will never share information externally without your consent, or unless compelled to by law.
They may share information within the FCA to discuss it with relevant experts. They may also disclose confidential information to other bodies or persons under legal gateways that allow the FCA to disclose such information.
First published: 27/03/2022 Last updated: 05/05/2022: Document update Draft application form updated
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- Read: Getting Authorised in the UK with the FCA
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