On 21 March 2016, the FCA published a policy statement on changes to the FCA Handbook relating to the segregation of client money on loan-based crowdfunding platforms, the introduction of the Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) and the new regulated activity of advising on peer-to-peer (P2P) agreements.
The FCA emphasises that the rule changes, which allow firms holding money relating to both P2P and business to business agreements to elect to hold all lenders' monies relating to this business under chapter 7 of the Clients Assets sourcebook (CASS 7), are optional. The FCA has decided to provide a transitional provision so that, if making the election means that a firm will become a CASS medium or CASS large firm solely as a result of its monies relating to non-P2P agreements, it will have until the following annual stratification exercise in January 2017 before it will be required to submit a client money and assets return.
The FCA also confirms that it will introduce high-level guidance on existing financial promotion and disclosure rules to clarify the types of information firms should provide as regards IFISAs. In addition, it confirms that it is not at this time applying the appropriateness test to P2P agreements when sold on a non-advised basis. However, it may revisit this in the future. It also believes that, with the sector still in an early stage of development, it is not appropriate at this time to oblige firms to have to consider P2P agreements when holding themselves out as independent. However, again, it will keep this under review.
The FCA states that it will separately continue to monitor the UK crowdfunding sector through its supervisory work. This will allow it to identify any market failures and whether further changes are required.