On 4 December 2023, the FCA published Consultation Paper CP23/26 on implementing the Overseas Funds Regime (OFR). CP23/26 sets out the FCA’s proposed rules and guidance to integrate the OFR into its Handbook and to enable overseas funds to be recognised under the regime, if HM Treasury decides to make any equivalence determinations in respect of any jurisdiction.
HM Treasury designed the OFR with the aim of providing a streamlined process that allows non-UK domiciled funds to market to UK retail customers where the government has found a jurisdiction equivalent. It is intended to support the existing global operating model of asset managers, facilitate greater consumer choice, and maintain existing high standards.
While no determination on equivalence has been made so far, the FCA is consulting now on its implementation of the OFR to allow it and firms enough time to prepare for the necessary changes. The FCA notes that it may consult about additional investor protection requirements following each decision by HM Treasury.
The FCA’s proposals
In CP23/26, the FCA is consulting on:
- The categories of information that overseas scheme operators will need to submit to become recognised by the FCA under OFR – this includes key information about the scheme’s investment objective and policy, and the main categories of assets that it invests in.
- Proposed notification requirements for OFR recognised schemes, so that the FCA can understand if and how they change over time. This is intended to enable effective oversight of all OFR recognised schemes throughout their lifecycle, as well as enabling the FCA to maintain an up-to-date register of OFR schemes and to assess whether or not they continue to meet the recognition conditions.
- New measures to ensure investors are aware of the protections they have, such as access to the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, if they invest in an overseas fund. Overseas funds will need to make it clear when these customer protections are not available. This aims to help consumers to make informed decisions about which funds best meet their needs.
The FCA notes that it is not at this stage consulting on any information it may need to obtain in the future if HM Treasury makes an equivalence determination in relation to the recognition of Money Market Funds.
The consultation closes on 12 February 2024. The FCA will consider all feedback and, subject to the responses received, will look to publish a final policy statement and final Handbook rules in H1 2024.
It also reminds firms of its recently published request for operators of UCITS in the Temporary Marketing Permissions Regime (TMPR) to ensure that any contact information, and information on fund population, that they have previously provided to the FCA is up-to-date and amend it if it is not. This is so that, in the event of a favourable equivalence determination by HM Treasury, the FCA can prepare to issue information about allocating ‘landing slots’ to scheme operators that plan to submit applications for recognition.