FCA has not rejected a fund application in five years despite complaints over fund quality

Nick Miller has said funds ‘must improve’

James Baxter-Derrington
clock • 2 min read
An initial FOI was rejected on cost grounds

An initial FOI was rejected on cost grounds

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has not rejected a single new scheme authorisation application over the past five years, despite recent castigation of fund houses by head of asset management supervision Nick Miller.

A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by Investment Week to the FCA has revealed that out of the 296 applications received by the regulator for the authorisation of new UCITS, non-UCITS Retail Schemes and Qualified Investor Schemes between 2017 and year-to-date 2021, not one has been formally rejected.

FCA warns bosses on 'poor quality' ESG fund launch applications

Of these near-300 applications, 46 have been withdrawn, meaning 250 applications have been approved over the past five years.

The FCA stated that applications "may be withdrawn for various reasons, for example, because there were outstanding queries or because the firm no longer wished to proceed".

In July, Miller wrote to industry bosses warning them of the "poor quality" of ESG fund launch applications the regulator receives, stating that there was "a high volume" of applications for funds with a sustainable focus, "many" of which are "poor quality" and "fall below expectations".

However, despite the FCA commenting on ESG-related funds and offering examples of the "poor quality" applications it receives, the regulator was unable to provide data delineated on a sustainable basis.

When an initial FOI was submitted to the FCA asking how many applications for authorisation of investment funds with an explicit sustainable focus it received, the regulator denied the request, stating that "responding to it in full would exceed the cost limit allowed under FOIA".

IA warns of problematic data gaps in response to FCA TCFD proposals

It was also unable to suggest a method to "narrow or refine the scope of your request to fit within the parameters set by Section 12," although when the same question was asked with the sustainable focus removed, the information was provided.

The FCA added that to obtain the data originally requested for even a single year "would exceed the cost appropriate limit".

The FCA has been contacted for comment.

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