On 21 March 2023, the FCA published an update on its operating service metrics for authorisations timelines.

Using a ‘Red/Amber/Green’ (RAG) rating system, the update notes that, for 2021/22, there were 8 green metrics, 5 amber and 6 red. In January/February 2023, 12 were green, 5 amber and 2 red. The FCA expects to see further improvement and to be substantially meeting its targets by the end of March 2023.

Increased scrutiny continues to be applied at the authorisation gateway, and in 2022/23, the number of firms not authorised continues to be 1 in 5, up from 1 in 14 in 2020/21. In some sectors the number not authorised is considerably higher.

The FCA highlights the areas which were not meeting authorisations targets in January/February 2023:

  • Approved persons (amber in January/ February 2023 but significantly improved compared to 2021/22).
  • Change in control applications (now very close to target, 99.1% in January/February 2023. The FCA explains that it has significantly reduced the time to allocate change in control notifications, and now allocates and begins work on change in control notifications within 3 days of receipt on average with the aim of allocating within 24 hours by the end of March 2023).
  • New firm authorisations (the FCA expects to meet this metric by the end of March 2023, except where this is not possible for regulatory reasons).
  • Payment services and e-money authorisations, registrations and notifications (where the FCA is seeing incomplete and poor-quality applications).

The FCA has proposed that from Q4 2023, it will report operating service metrics performance quarterly and will include more detailed reporting on the time taken to process applications.