Irish investment business authorisation
Regulation of ACCA Irish Investment Business Activities
ACCA has formally decided to relinquish its Approved Professional Body (APB) status under the Irish Investment Intermediaries Act 1995, which will mean that ACCA will not issue any Irish Investment Business certificates to members after their current authorisations end on 31 December 2019.
In October 2018, the law in Ireland changed following the implementation of the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) which meant that insurance business was removed from the scope of activities which could be undertaken through ACCA authorisation. Therefore, from October 2018, ACCA firms wishing to advise on or arrange insurance products, including ‘investment products’ written under an insurance contract, are required to seek registration from the Central Bank of Ireland (Central Bank).
In addition, as a result of the implementation of IDD, referring a client to an insurance broker, including advise on the choice of broker, no longer requires authorisation, ie, it is no longer a regulated activity. This, for many ACCA firms, was the primary reason for authorisation (Category B). Members will have received information from ACCA at that time on the changes to the investment business framework, its implications and the actions that they needed to take.
With effect from 1 January 2020, those members who were authorised by ACCA to undertake Irish investment business must either (i) seek full authorisation from the Central Bank under the IIA in order to provide investment business services, or (ii) cease providing such services.
Members who wish to apply for a licence under the IIA are required to follow the Central Bank’s Authorisation Process for retail intermediaries. The Central Bank’s time commitment when assessing authorisation applications is 90 working days, which can be paused/extended if required.
Alternatively, members who intend to cease providing investment business services must comply with provision 3.11 (b) of the Consumer Protection Code and provide at least two months’ notice to affected consumers to enable them to make alternative arrangements.
Investment business has, over time, become a specialised and highly regulated activity. While the number of authorised firms has always been low, the implementation of IDD has meant the vast majority of ACCA firms no longer require authorisation for the sole purpose of referring clients to a broker.
For ACCA, the changes mean that very few firms will continue to hold investment business authorisation from ACCA. Those firms that wish to undertake activities permissible under ACCA authorisation will be able to achieve similar authorisation from CBI. ACCA’s continued recognition as an APB therefore - and the obligations that flow from it - is no longer be viable.