On 18 June 2021, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) issued its Consultation Conclusions on Proposed Enhancements to the Competency Framework for Intermediaries and Individual Practitioners (Conclusions). The Conclusions relate to a consultation paper that the SFC issued in December 2020 regarding proposals to update the entry requirements for persons seeking to be licensed to engage in regulated activities, and ongoing competency standards for intermediaries and individual practitioners. In our previous article, we summarised the key proposals of the consultation.
The SFC has reported that it received 31 written submissions from the industry that were generally supportive of its proposals to enhance the competency framework. In the Conclusions, the SFC has set out further amendments to the revised framework, as summarised below.
Further amendments to the competency framework
In addition to hands-on experience in supervising and managing essential regulated functions or projects in a business setting, the SFC will also accept management experience in the financial industry, but is unlikely to do so if such experience is purely administrative in nature.
Academic or professional qualifications of responsible officers and licensed representatives
Under Option A of assessing an individual’s competence when applying to be a responsible officer or licensed representative, if the applicant has a post-graduate diploma or certificate which is issued by a university or similar tertiary institution in Hong Kong, or if the post-graduate diploma or certificate is recognised as Level 6 or above under the Qualifications Framework in Hong Kong, this will also be taken into account in assessing the individual’s competence.
Guidelines on Continuous Professional Training (CPT)
The SFC mentioned in the Conclusions that several respondents “suggested that sustainable development planning should be regarded as a core competency of an individual who joins the industry at the senior management level”. The SFC shares this view and has accordingly revised the list of relevant CPT topics that licensed representatives and relevant individuals can take to include environmental, social and governance.
When will the revised competency regime come into effect?
The SFC has confirmed that the revised Guidelines on Competence, Guidelines on CPT and Fit and Proper Guidelines will be gazetted on 25 June 2021 and become effective on 1 January 2022. We encourage industry participants to look out for any FAQs that the SFC publishes so as to better understand the implementation of the enhanced competency framework and how it may affect you or your organisation.