On the 28th August, the Commission launched a consultation paper setting out its proposals in respect of its 2014 licence fees. The consultation period closed on the 9th October.
Two options were explored in the consultation paper. Option 1 involved an increase across the board of 1.25%. Option 2 was a differential option aimed at addressing significant anomalies in the current fee structure but without increasing total fee income above that for 2013. Option 2 envisaged that, other than for the anomalies where significant fee increases would occur, the fee tariff in the investment sector would remain unchanged in 2014 and rise by 0.3% in all other sectors.
The consultation paper also proposed the introduction of a deposit of up to £10,000 to cover the cost of the registration process for new, complex non-regulated financial services businesses and an annual fee of not greater than £10,000 to be applied to complex and / or innovative businesses.
The majority of the responses favoured option 2 and, following careful consideration, the Commission has determined that option 2 should be implemented as far as the general fees tariff is concerned. Of particular note is that the Commission’s proposals are designed not to increase total fee income in 2014 compared to 2013.
With regard to the proposed introduction of a charge of up to £10,000 to cover the cost of the registration process for new, complex non-regulated financial services businesses. The Commission is acutely aware of the requirement to strike a balance between encouraging the development of innovative ideas while simultaneously ensuring that other businesses which are regulated by the Commission are not expected to subsidise the sometimes considerable costs associated with the work the Commission has to undertake in assessing the more complex proposals. The Commission has also been cognisant of the fact that in the majority of cases (estimated to be around 90% or more of firms), the current registration fee of £1,113 (£1,116 from 2014) will continue to be charged.
The Commission has therefore decided that in respect of the more complex applications only, a staged approach to the registration process will be introduced to include ‘Scoping’, ‘Research’, ‘Analysis’ and ‘Decision’ with the total fee for all stages not exceeding £5,000.
Finally, with regard to the proposed annual fee of up to £10,000 for the complex and / or innovative non-regulated financial services businesses, the Commission has decided to defer this for one year to enable further consideration to be given to this proposal.