The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (‘FSCA’) has published its Regulation Plan (‘Plan’) for the next three years, effective from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2025.
The Plan seeks to set out the regulations and rules within which financial institutions (including all retirement funds) must operate and for which the FSCA is responsible.
The financial sector is currently in the process of undergoing two major legislative reforms –
The Conduct of Financial Institutions (COFI) Bill will reshape the future conduct regulatory framework by consolidating the conduct financial sector laws into a single overarching piece of conduct legislation, and will also bring a broad scope of new activities within the conduct legislative framework; and
The Financial Markets Act.
The framework envisaged in the Plan will position the FSCA to ensure an efficient transition into the COFI Bill. The framework consists of three phases to be executed concurrently:
A consideration of the overall design of the regulatory framework under the COFI Bill, including the structure and how conduct standards will be managed.
Based on the need to start harmonising laws administered by the FSCA, the harmonisation project identifies key conduct themes and the subsequent development of cross-cutting (across financial institutions) requirements for each of those themes. The result is a regulatory framework applied to the financial industry as a whole, regardless of the type of financial institution or activity.
the third phase entails a significant redesign of the current regulatory framework and transitioning existing sectoral standards to the COFI Bill framework. All the subordinate legislation (for example, Conduct Standards) currently sitting under all the sectoral laws (for example, the Pension Funds Act) will continue to exist after the COFI Bill has come into operation, even though the laws in terms of which they were made have been repealed until they are replaced by Conduct Standards under the Bill (once promulgated).
Some of the reporting requirements and formats for retirement funds are outdated. New and revised standards include the following that is in the pipeline:
The FSCA is working on several cross-sector regulatory developments, which will be prioritised in the next three years. These include those set out below.
The FSCA and Prudential Authority (“PA”) are currently developing a high-level Joint Standard relating to culture and governance of financial institutions which will be published for public consultation during 2023.
A draft Joint Standard relating to information technology governance and risk management has been published. The FSCA and PA are busy with final refinements to the Joint Standard, and it is expected that it will be submitted to National Treasury to provide to Parliament by the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023.
The draft Joint Standard relating to cyber security and cyber resilience requirements was published for public comment in December 2021. Further refinement of the Joint Standard is taking place, and it is envisaged that a second version of the draft Joint Standard will be published for public consultation.
The FSCA and PA are also working on other IT-related topics, such as cloud computing and outsourcing of IT functions, which may lead to further proposals for legislation.
The treatment of lost accounts and unclaimed assets in the financial sector remains a significant concern. The FSCA will be developing policy proposals for the treatment of lost accounts and unclaimed assets with the ultimate goal of proposing legislative interventions through a Conduct Standard. Formal draft legislative proposals are expected during the first quarter of 2024 and should be finalised during mid-2025.
To ensure a consistent approach to licensing and in anticipation of the licensing framework under the COFI Bill, the FSCA will be developing cross-sector licensing forms. The cross-sector licensing forms are expected to be finalised during 2023.
The Plan includes a table that outlines the various projects forming part of the Plan, as well as the implementation timetable of each project.
The FSCA’s Plan is important to the industry. Financial institutions and customers require an efficient regulator that delivers and is structurally prepared for the upcoming changes. In addition, understanding the Plan puts financial institutions in a better position to engage with the developments as well as to work the timelines and requirements into plans and projects to ensure compliance with the upcoming developments as and when they are rolled out.
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