FCA wins authorisation cancellation fee complaint

The FCA has survived a complaint where a firm wanted a fee charged for cancelling its authorisation refunded.

The firm was charged a £1,300 fee after it missed the deadline to have its FCA authorisation cancelled.

The firm initially complained to the FCA saying it was unfair the fee was charged because it understood it had a different deadline.

The firm also complained that the impact of European directive Mifid II meant its business was no longer viable and the size of the fee did not take into account a recent fall in revenue.

The FCA initially rejected the complaint and it was then referred to the Complaints Commissioner.

In his decision, Complaints Commissioner Antony Townsend says it would have been helpful it the 31 March deadline had been explained to the firm on the two telephone calls it had with the FCA but that it “made no practical difference” because the cut-off had already been missed.

The FCA’s published policy is that a firm is liable to pay a full year’s fee unless they apply to cancel their authorisation before 1 April in any year.

In relation to the size of the fee, the Complaints Commissioner says the FCA’s policy on authorisation fees is clear – fees are calculated according to a firm’s income and the complainant firm was already being charged the minimum fee.

Townsend did not uphold the complaint.

The decision says: “There is a legitimate debate about whether the FCA’s fee charging policy ought to be changed; but I am afraid that this complaints scheme is not the means by which policies are changed – although information from complaints can and should inform the FCA’s policies.”

It adds: “I can see from the FCA’s records that staff have been reminded that they should explain the 31 March deadline in cases such as yours. The fact remains that the FCA has treated you in accordance with its published policies, which apply to all firms.”